Health and healthcare disparities refers to higher burden of mortality, disability, injury or illness experienced by one population relative to another. Campinha-Bacote (2002) argues that health disparities result from ethnicity and race lens, where they occur in many dimensions like sexual orientation, disability status, gender, location, age and socio-economic status. Health disparity is a significant aspect in nursing as it limits continuous improvement of population health and quality of care. In the present day, several populations are at disproportionate risk of experiencing worse health outcomes, lack care access, or be uninsured particularly people economically disadvantaged persons and color.
In day to day, nurses face ethical dilemmas while deciding on care priorities and allocating human and material resources to clients. For example, a nurse caring for a homeless or undeserved population who cannot afford the services yet they deserve quality care. In such a situation, a nurse will negotiate not only on his values, but also the values of the organization they operate. As a nurse in such a case, I would take a rational decision that would be morally and logically acceptable universally.
Nonetheless, the introduction of health reforms and Affordable Care Act benefits some of these economically disadvantaged individuals. The core reason for introducing health reform in the US was to improve quality care to low income individuals. The reform covers almost a quarter of persons who could not afford insurance. Unlike other insurances, ACA is affordable as it is non-profit based benefiting the low-income individuals through its incentives to this population. The ACA also offers free preventive care and drug coverage for senior populations (Campinha-Bacote, 2002). However, health reform in the US is not aligned to a single payer, universal access and tax supported health care.
Nonetheless, health disparities can be eliminated through protection of human rights and social justice where they collaborate, partner or advocate with vulnerable population. Social justice is included in culturally competent care where they occur at health institutions, health professionals, government agencies and empowered communities (Arnold, Eiser and Ellis, 2007). To eliminate health disparities, health professionals should treat clients with moral fairness, equity and rightness. One way to boost social justice in an impoverished population is provision of social and economic structures which ensures equal access of to healthcare services irrespective of their education, ethnicity, gender or income level (Healthy People 2020, 2014).
Arnold, Eiser, & Ellis, G. (2007). Viewpoint: Cultural Competence and the African American Experience with Health Care: The Case for Specific Content in CrossCultural Education. Academic Medicine, 82(2)
Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). The Process of Cultural Competence in the Delivery of Healthcare Services: A Model of Care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3), 181-184.
Healthy People 2020. (2014). Disparities. Healthy People 2020. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/about/foundation-health-measures/Disparities
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