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Unequal health outcomes: The U.S. system falls short across the ethnic divide

The inequalities of the U.S. healthcare system are affecting some ethnic groups worse than others during the coronavirus pandemic.

Children 18 and younger now account for over 22 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Image courtesy of the CDC (Public Domain)
Children 18 and younger now account for over 22 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Image courtesy of the CDC (Public Domain)

New data about how the COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people of color has been issued, in relation to the U.S. population. These data comes from who leveraged a two-part survey fielded in February and December 2020, to deep dive into how the global health crisis impacted people’s healthcare sentiments.

Compiled under the banner of Healthline’s In Health We Trust Campaign, the collated information showed that people in the U.S. value healthcare more now (in the coronavirus situation) than ever before.

While there has been significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of many chronic diseases, there remains strong evidence that ethnic minorities receive lower quality of care compared with non-minorities. To add to this, patients of minority ethnicity experience greater morbidity together with mortality from an array of chronic diseases.

The analysis also shows that some populations have had more difficulty accessing medical professionals since the pandemic. While the inefficiencies in the private healthcare system are unavoidable, without economic reform, there are also in-built bias in the system. The bias reflects the social class and ethnic divisions endemic in U.S. society.

For example, in terms of the inability to see doctors or receive treatments, the proportions as categorized by U.S. government ethnic classifications was:

  • Asians: 22 percent
  • Hispanics: 20 percent
  • African Americans: 17 percent
  • Whites: 16 percent

On another measure, with delayed doctor or medical appointments due to lack of availability, the pattern was:

  • Hispanics: 37 percent
  • Asians: 36 percent
  • Whites: 36 percent
  • African Americans: 31 percent

To add context to the process outcomes above, in terms of heightened levels of stress and anxiety over the past few months, this was experienced differently by the categorises as follows:

  • Asians: 75 percent
  • Hispanics: 72 percent
  • Whites: 68 percent
  • African Americans: 59 percent

The findings add to the understanding of how factors of class, ethnicity, geography, education, and income impact an individual’s access to health services and the quality of those services received within the U.S. healthcare system.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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