Unequal Access and Disparity in Healthcare

The goal of the healthcare system is to grant equal access to the finest care for anyone but this is not the case and is a goal that has not been achieved.  Poorer demographic areas, minorities, and more rural areas all face less and equal access as richer and more urban areas.  Those with a bigger wallet or who live in a more wealthy and urban area have an incredible advantage over others.  This calls for a large call for sweeping reforms in healthcare and its delivery to the nation’s more vulnerable.  It calls for better laws, better healthcare programs and more healthcare facilities to meet the growing needs of the population.  These are many issues that Case Managers have to face with patients.

Not everyone has the same access to good healthcare. Please also review AIHCP’s Healthcare Case Management Program


The article, “What is health inequity?” by Jayne Leonard looks at the nature of health inequity and how it differs from the term healthcare inequality.  The article gives various examples of how these terms relate to the real world and what groups and areas face more challenges.  Leonard states,

“Health inequity refers to avoidable differences in health between different groups of people. These widespread differences are the result of unfair systems that negatively affect people’s living conditions, access to healthcare, and overall health status. Health inequity affects people from disadvantaged or historically oppressed groups most severely. However, it has a negative impact on everyone. This article will look at health inequity in more detail, explaining how it differs from health inequality and its impact.”

What is health inequity?. Jayne Leonard. May 16th, 2021. MedicalNewsToday.

To read the entire article, please click here


Health disparities are a complex issue that has been a long-standing problem in healthcare. They arise from various social, economic, and environmental factors such as poverty, education, race, ethnicity, and geography. These disparities cause differences in access to healthcare, quality of care, and health outcomes. Health disparities have a significant impact on individuals and communities, leading to increased morbidity and mortality rates, reduced quality of life, and increased healthcare costs.  This type of unequal access is an issue for healthcare providers and case managers attempting to ensure their patients receive the best care.

Understanding the Causes of Health Disparities

As in most cases, poverty and poverty stricken areas play the largest role in healthcare inequity and disparity. Please also review AIHCP’s Case Management Program


Health disparities are caused by a combination of factors, including social determinants of health, access to healthcare, and individual behavior. Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. These determinants include factors such as poverty, lack of education, poor housing conditions, and lack of access to healthy food options. Access to healthcare is another critical factor in health disparities. People who live in low-income areas or rural areas often lack access to quality healthcare services, resulting in poor health outcomes. Lastly, individual behavior such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity can also contribute to health disparities.

The Impact of Health Disparities on Individuals and Society

The impact of health disparities is far-reaching and affects individuals and society as a whole. Individuals who experience health disparities are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. They are also more likely to have shorter lifespans and experience higher mortality rates. Health disparities also have a significant economic impact on society. The cost of treating preventable diseases that arise from health disparities is estimated to be around $93 billion per year in the United States alone.

Examples of Health Disparities

Poverty and race play key roles in healthcare disparity


Health disparities exist across a range of health outcomes, including infant mortality rates, life expectancy, and chronic disease prevalence. For example, African American infants are twice as likely to die before their first birthday compared to white infants. Women of color are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stages of breast cancer and are more likely to die from the disease than white women. Native Americans have a higher prevalence of diabetes and are more likely to die from the disease than any other racial or ethnic group.

The Cost of Health Disparities

Health disparities not only have a significant impact on individuals and society but also come at a high cost. The cost of treating preventable diseases that arise from health disparities is estimated to be around $93 billion per year in the United States alone. This cost includes direct medical costs, such as hospitalization and medication, as well as indirect costs, such as lost productivity and reduced quality of life.

Addressing Health Disparities through Policy and Advocacy

Addressing health disparities requires a multi-faceted approach that involves policy and advocacy. Policy solutions such as expanding access to healthcare, increasing funding for health education programs, and improving economic and social conditions can help reduce health disparities. Advocacy efforts can also play a critical role in addressing health disparities. Community-based organizations can advocate for policies that address the root causes of health disparities and work to educate the public about the importance of health equity.

The Role of Healthcare Providers in Reducing Health Disparities

Healthcare providers and case managers can play key roles in helping patients and people find equal access to care


Healthcare providers have a crucial role to play in reducing health disparities. Providers can work to ensure that all patients have access to quality healthcare services regardless of their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Providers can also work to address cultural and linguistic barriers that may prevent patients from accessing care. Additionally, providers can work to improve health literacy by providing patient education and resources that help patients better understand their health conditions.  Case Managers can also play a role within their healthcare facility in attempting to help individuals receive the care they need.

Community-Based Solutions for Reducing Health Disparities

Community-based solutions are another critical component of addressing health disparities. Community organizations can work to address the root causes of health disparities by providing education, resources, and support to individuals and families. These organizations can also work to improve access to healthcare services by providing transportation, language services, and other resources that help remove barriers to care. Community-based solutions are particularly effective in addressing health disparities in marginalized communities.

The Importance of Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Addressing social determinants of health is critical to reducing health disparities. Social determinants such as poverty, lack of education, and poor housing conditions have a significant impact on health outcomes. By addressing these determinants, we can help reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes. Strategies for addressing social determinants of health include increasing access to affordable housing, improving educational opportunities, and increasing economic opportunities.

Conclusion – Moving towards Health Equity

Health disparities are a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach to address. By understanding the causes and impact of health disparities, we can work to develop policies and programs that help reduce these disparities. Healthcare providers, community organizations, and policymakers all have a critical role to play in addressing health disparities. By working together, we can move towards health equity and ensure that all individuals have access to quality healthcare services and the opportunity to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

Please also review AIHCP’s Healthcare Case Management Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals


As healthcare professionals, we have a responsibility to advocate for health equity and work towards reducing health disparities.  Healthcare professionals and healthcare case managers can work with providers and other aspects to help ensure everyone receives the healthcare and treatment they need.

Please also review AIHCP’s Healthcare Case Management Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified healthcare professionals seeking a four year certification as a case manager.

Additional Resources

“Reducing disparities in health care”. AMA. Access here

“Racial Inequities Persist in Health Care Despite Expanded Insurance”. Roni Caryn Rabin.  August 17th, 2021. New York Times. Access here

“Health Inequity in the Time of a Pandemic”. Madelyn Valu. October 9th, 2020. HIMSS. Access here

“Health Equity — Are We Finally on the Edge of a New Frontier?”. Michele Evans, MD. September 10th, 2020. The New England Journal of Medicine. Access here