Disparities in Health Care Toward Different Ethnic Groups

Published 16 Feb 2017

Table of content


This paper aims at describing the main cause of disparities in health care toward the white and other ethnic groups. Beside that, the paper aims at giving brief historical features of racial segregation and disparities in health coverage in various countries.

Racial difference and ethnicity

This is the ancestral differences and norms that are caused by the skin color differences and environment background. This is further elaborated through native characters and cultural beliefs, their mother tongue languages, religion and biological composition of the skin color.


Health care or medical care is the prophylaxes measures, prevention, curing and management of diseases in order to maintain a health population. This is a service offered by nurses, doctors and associated health professions to the entire population through a well organized health care system.


Health inequality or disparity is offering of health services to the individuals across the ethic line and origin. The medical attention offered is not similar and standardized depending on the racial segregation. This occurs mostly in countries where different tribes and races live together e.g. in USA. In USA there are the whites who are superior, black Americans, blacks or Africans and Asians. Ethnicity in medical attention and health care arises according to the originality of the individuals, poverty, ranks and socio-economic differences of which Africans are highly discriminated. Disparities in accessing medical care dictate the health outcomes of the patients across the ethnic differences. Inferiority complex can have an adverse effect to the patients’ health care and outcomes due to disparities.

Racial discrimination directly influences health outcomes in several ways. People living in poor regions get racial unfairness in medical attention. The nervous tension due to discrimination and condoning of the racial stigma of inferiority and discrimination can cause disastrous outcomes for health fitness. Disparity toward medical attention has been there historically.


Since the time of barter trade nursing and health care has been there and was offered to the warlords and business men. Disparities in health care have been there since the time immemorial (David R. Williams, 2000). According to Collins, inequalities in health care and expected life span have differed highly along the line of racial and ethnic differences. Since the historical period of slavery, blacks have been discriminated in many ways as compared to the white. This is not only in medical attention but also they are denied other human rights and services. For example, not all Africans can enter into prestigious restaurant reserved for the white. In many countries racial segregations still exists. For example in America there is racial division and attention towards health care and coverage (Michael Thornton, 2004).

Actually, real racism erupted in middle 19th century when black men diagnosed with syphilis in Tuskegee were not treated nor cured. They were allowed to stay with this venereal disease for more than 40 years (Thornton, 2004). This was the worst medical history record where non-therapeutic trial on human beings was done. Another factor showing that racial segregation existed is because of movement of black people living in America that occurred in 1967-1976.This movement was due to a great discrimination toward the black people especially in the health wise. The black people were demonstrating so that they could acquire the same medical cover and attention as the white. Since 1980, the life and health of Africans deteriorated while the white stated to improve. Therefore, history has it that racial discrimination and segregation toward medical care existed.

According to the report issued by Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Family Services indicated that black women died often due to breast cancer while the white women had less death mortality from the same disease because they were being diagnosed. To make matter worse, the lucky African women who were diagnosed did not get medical attention. According to Michael T. this showed that racism toward medical cover still exists today.


The current study indicates that health coverage is not intensified to all people. For example in America, all individuals do not get medical coverage. This is because they belief that some tribes and ethic groups cannot meet the cost or their economic outcomes cannot guarantee for medical cover. The main cause has been the constant rates of black poverty, intensified stigma and racial segregation. The type of medical services offered in America follows racial differences and along the ethnic origin. There is division of health system despite the federal efforts to end segregation. In USA, health care remains segregated along racial groups.

As mentioned earlier, health inequalities in USA is highly visible toward the minority populations. These populations include Black Americans, Red Indians, Asian and Latinas. The failure of health care system in America is that it does not address their problems medically due to the belief that these marginalized class of people suffer often from chronic infections such as cardiovascular diseases, HIV aids and cancers. Beside that it is believed that they have shorter life span, higher death mortality and disastrous health outcomes.

According to the investigation carried out by Rawlings, it was found that newborn mortality rate for Black Americans is almost twice the rate for European Americans even if they both served as military service men (Rawlings and Weir 1992).


The big question is what is the cause of all these inequalities and disparities in health care? According to the journal on social issues by Marx and Brown, The determining factors are due to lower income by the discriminated racial groups and denial to access insurance coverage. These factors highly lead to failures to receive medical services since in America there is no universal health care. Citizens are encouraged to acquire medical cover privately. Actually, this is not simple to the foreigners.

According to the literature, 63% of Hispanic grownups had no insurance cover. This is large group in America. Apart from that more than 6.2 millions of black working in America was not insured. This indicates that these people could not access proper medical care. This resulted to Blacks having more problems with medical debt (Jencks & Phillips M, 2005). From the N. Krieger perspective, Black Americans get less medical care than white Americans when expensive and non affordable technology is applied.

According to Gilbert C, racial prejudice is related with poor health status that is manifested by a given members of certain ethnic group. Actually, the main cause of inequality toward health care coverage can emerge from the following factors. First, there are the environmental traits of various ethic and racial groups. Then there is personal and self composition of the individuals and lastly the socio-economic factor. In real sense lack of financial capability of the marginalized groups is the main cause of disparity. Even if this is not entirely a genuine argument because it is observed that black Americans were not getting the same medical attention as whites. However, failure to access health care is a problem to many Americans because there is no universal health care but the impact is felt by the minorities who are the black Americans.

Actually, lacks of universal health care, patients are more likely to abandon expensive treatments or screening. This causes a major brow to the poor ethic groups. As stated earlier minority groups in America do not have medical cover as compared to white. Another factor that can lead to disparity is where there are legal barriers imposed by the government. For example, in America federal law prohibit states from offering insurance coverage to foreigners who have stayed in America less than five years. This is trivial because in new environment, diseases are likely to strike due to changes in the immigrants’ environment.

Due to racial segregation, minority groups located in rural areas or primitive regions set aside for them can be denied professional experts to provide the services for health care. Therefore, they suffer from scarcity health care practitioners. Another cause for disparity is the language barrier. It is easy to identify a foreigner and hence to ignore his attention. Finally, I belief the main cause is due to lack of enough work force that represent the minority. For example, according to Aronson J, about 4.5 percents of doctors in USA are African American. Again, Hispanics occupies about 5.5% this is too low compared to their populations in America.


As indicated in the above discussions, disparity is caused by several factors. In order to lessen the havoc, proper measures need to be taken. The first step should be aimed at eliminating the main cause of inequality toward health care and other services (Harbor K and Nisbett, 2005). Therefore, racial and ethic disparities should be avoided. Health care attendants should avoid racial segregation when offering the services. They should try to collect data on racial and ethic medical provision services constantly to confirm the improvement. All people should be encouraged to have a common language to be adapted by all in order to lessen language barrier. Inequality reduction programs should be started and minority workforce should be employed to lessen the burden to the practitioners.

The government should set some federal offices to cater for the minority health services. All these measures would lead to easier access to proper health care by the minority.


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  • Adult Black Americans and Latinos have twice the risk of getting diabetes than their white counterparts, retrieved on 7th December 2007, available at www.annals.org/
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  • Martinez N (1993), diseases and minority populations, Nursing Clinic North Am. Vol. 28, pp. 87-95.
  • Steele and Aronson J. (1995), Black Americans and racial segregation, Journal of social psychology and personality 69, 797-811
  • Steele and Hummel M. (2005), lessening disparities and improving minority health care, Harvard Press.
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