The past year has shown the deep flaws within the American health care system.
Despite the pandemic, many Americans have still had to suffer through merciless health care policies that left many in inescapable medical debt and having to decide if getting treatment was worth the inevitable bill. Furthermore, communities of color are unevenly harmed by the systemic bias in health care.
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Recently, UnitedHealthcare announced that it would implement a new practice to stop paying for emergency care visits that it appraised to be nonurgent. This blatant display of greed would make even Mr. Scrooge blush. After receiving public backlash, they backpedaled and said they would delay the new practice. And this is just one display of extortionate practices from insurance companies.
During a pandemic that has desecrated many communities, Black Americans disproportionally suffered from the coronavirus. African Americans are five times more likely to contract COVID-19. Furthermore, health care workers of color are twice as likely to contract the virus than their white peers while being 20% more likely to care for COVID-19 patients.
The inequities don’t stop there.
There tend to be few health care facilities in minority communities. And when patients can get in, doctors tend to spend less time with them and dismiss or ignore their concerns. Black women are also three times more likely to die as a result of child birth. The national mortality rate for maternal deaths is 24.6 deaths per 100,000 live births, but for black women the rate is much higher — 43.5 compared to 12.7 per 100,000 for white women. Even celebrities aren’t immune to discrimination.
Health care is a human right, and we need to ensure that everyone receives equal treatment in their most vulnerable state. The only way to make change is to demand better from our public servants, to remind them that they represent their constituents and not big corporations.
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