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Racial Injustice Still Rife in Healthcare
August 22, 2015
By: Janice Tjeng
Edited by: Juliana Zhu, Esq.
Fifty years ago, Lyndon B. Johnson, signed into law both Medicaid and Medicare programs that improved health care justice. These programs expanded health care access for the elderly and the poor, regardless of their race. Furthermore, hospitals hoping to be certified for Medicare have to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act; avoid hospital segregation. Despite these improvements, justice in healthcare remains an aspiration, not an achievement.
Disparities still exist in health care access. For instance, blacks and Hispanics have higher uninsured rates than whites. In 2010, black males had a life expectancy of 5 years lower than white males and black women could expect to live three years fewer than white females. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aims to resolve such inequalities, the act would not be able to completely diminish racial injustices in the nation’s health care system. In addition, some Obamacare plans categorize medications for particular conditions in the highest co-payment category. As a result, some patients, especially people of color, could not afford the medications and are deterred from seeking treatment.
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The U.S. remains the only advanced nation that forces families to start GofundMe campaigns to pay for the medical treatment of their loved ones and people of color bear a heavy burden to do so. In order to improve American health care while opposing racial injustice, Medicare needs to be expanded and improved so that everyone is guaranteed just and equal care.
Janice Tjeng is a fourth year Biology major at the University of San Francisco. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine. She looks forward to applying to medical school where she can learn the skills to provide healthcare for disadvantaged people.