Structural Inequities in Healthcare Access
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The Commonwealth Fund reports, “more than one-quarter of U.S. adults report they have ever been diagnosed with two or more chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension during their lifetime compared to 22 percent or less in all other countries” (“U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective” n.p.). With at least a quarter of the population expected to need consistent care due to a chronic illness, and healthcare also being used by the greater populace for non-chronic conditions, patients cannot avoid using U.S. healthcare services in the course of their lives. This healthcare, however, comes at a cost, and the financial weight on the individual patient can be detrimental, regardless of healthcare coverage. Affordable healthcare is not a reasonable option for Americans in practice, and not receiving equitable care is a dangerous barrier to their health. I interviewed 10 residents of Nashville, TN and its surrounding counties to evaluate what inequities to healthcare they faced or are facing, and the mindset employed around these inequities and within the greater United States healthcare system. Common inequities found include cost of care, insurance restrictions, and cultural barriers due to the lives and location of participants that restrict their healthcare access. I then find a plurality of thought, in which participants report getting the healthcare they deserve, state that their care is unaffordable, and possess negative opinions of the healthcare system.