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What Does Equity in Healthcare Look Like?

The word equity gets used a lot lately in ongoing conversations about social justice. Most people probably have a grasp of the general meaning of the word equity, which refers to justice or fairness in the way people are treated, but often, it can be hard to visualize what equity looks like in a concrete sense. One aspect of equity that is often overlooked is the need for equity in healthcare.

What Is Health Equity?

According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), “Health equity is realized when each individual has a fair opportunity to achieve their full health potential.” More specifically, health equity means that no one is prevented from living healthy lives or accessing health care because of systemic injustice or social, economic, or political barriers. When differences in access, treatment, or outcomes are present for individuals or populations, these are referred to as health disparities.

Who Is Most Affected by Health Inequities?

Health disparities tend to be concentrated in groups who face other forms of disadvantage (such as economic, social, or environmental disadvantages). This includes populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, and LGBTQ+ communities.

For example, statistics reveal stark health disparities for Black Americans. Black people are more likely to be affected by infant mortality, PTSD, and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease than non-Black populations. This is due in large part to lingering racial discrimination in our healthcare system.

What Can We Do to Promote Healthcare Equity?

Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect Americans, it’s more essential than ever to promote healthcare equity and ensure that everyone has access to medical treatment. Achieving healthcare equity is largely dependent on addressing the issues at the root of healthcare disparities, often called social determinants of health. These determinant factors include poverty, unemployment, education, location, race, ethnicity and more. Supporting legislation and community initiatives aimed at solving these issues is a crucial step in moving toward healthcare equity.

RADIAS Health provides patient-centered integrated healthcare services to people suffering from mental illness, substance use, or co-occurring disorders. Our services encompass primary care and behavioral health services delivered by compassionate, skilled health care and support staff. In addition, our care includes supplementary services such as case management, supportive housing, homeless services, and more. If you or someone you know could benefit from our mission, contact us today or consider donating!

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