In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of debate regarding the extent to which American healthcare is racist. While some may argue that access to healthcare and quality of care is not dependent upon one’s skin color or ethnicity, data indicates that significant disparities exist between different populations when it comes to medical treatment.
by David Stone
Several studies have shown that African Americans and other minorities are less likely to receive necessary medical care. That incluses preventative screenings such as mammograms or colonoscopies.
Others indicate an increase in fatalities for African Americans with certain illnesses due to a lack of access to proper treatments.
Research also shows that cultural differences between healthcare providers and minority patients often lead to poorer treatment outcomes. And this can be compounded by the prevalence of unconscious bias against people from certain backgrounds in the medical field.
But Is It Really Racist?
Even simple things such as eye contact and body language can contribute to mistrust. These signals are easily misinterpreted due to cultural differences or implicit racial biases on the part of the provider. Some things may be racist, but unintentional.
As a result, many experts believe that racism is intrinsic within American medicine — whether rooted in overt discriminatory practices or subtle disparities in care related to perception and communication problems.
Unless steps are taken to actively address these issues within our healthcare system, it will remain difficult for all citizens to get equal access to quality care regardless of their race or ethnicity.