Health and Healthcare Disparities

  • Heath and Healthcare Disparities in the US
  • A lot of disparities we see in US are result of poor economic and environmental conditions.
    • Social-economic status is a pyramid.
      • As we go up social pyramid, access and quality of healthcare improves.
      • Opposite is true for those at bottom of pyramid – more disease, less high quality healthcare, substandard housing, poor diet, dangerous jobs, can’t afford expensive treatments
    • Race can play a role – Hispanics and African-Americans have higher morbidity and mortality rates, worse access to healthcare and lower quality healthcare.
      • Even though some can be attributed to SES reasons, doesn’t explain everything. Minorities less likely to receive everyday healthcare and treatments for life-threatening conditions.
    • Gender differences – men typically use fewer preventative services like vaccines/check-ups.
      • Women require reproductive services, and access is reduced due to local laws.
      • Studies for treatments for diabetes/heart disease don’t always include women, and can suffer from lack of research.
    • LGBT community – might face discrimination, which can limit clinics they feel comfortable seeking help from.
      • Transgender especially face discrimination, and have a hard time finding someone who has experience working with transgender individuals. Leads them to be reluctant to seek services when they really need them.
    • Intersectionality – discrimination based on multiple factors
    • Many types of discrimination, like sex/gender/culture/race, but what if someone experiences multiple forms at same time?
      • Female who is African American and practices Buddhist teachings, causing her to be discriminated against in 3 different areas.
      • Social Stratification – groups of people are given better preferences than others (group based) (intersectionality is at the individual/person level)

Why is it important to consider intersection?

  • Because multiple different categories of potential discrimination/oppression that compounds in one individual, and put her at disadvantage in society.
  • Theory of intersectionality asks us to consider all the different levels of discrimination.
    • Originally coined in 1989 by Crenshaw as a feminist theory, but has since expanded out and use it to explain oppression in all parts of society.
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