Social justice is the belief that everyone is entitled to equal rights and opportunities, including the right to good health (Social Justice and health, n.d.). Today, however, there are health inequities that are avoidable, unnecessary, and unjust (Social Justice and health, n.d.). These inequities are caused by policies and practices that result in an unequal distribution of money, power, and resources among communities based on race, class, gender, location, and other factors (Social Justice and health, n.d.). To ensure that everyone can achieve their optimal level of health, we must address both the social and economic determinants of health (Social Justice and health, n.d.).
The health-care system in the United States is not very equitable. Many people lack insurance but can owe thousands of dollars in case they need to be seen. Although, the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010 and gave opportunities for people to have access to health insurance through the help of a tax credit. The Affordable Care Act also prevents health insurance companies from denying people health insurance for pre-existing conditions. People with health insurance can also get their annual comprehensive medical exam with no deductible and co-insurance. But still, health care in the United States is more expensive than in most other countries. One aspect of health care that I would change is the availability of affordable care. With inflation on the rise, many people can barely afford to pay their rent and, what is more, a high deductible and co-insurance. Having a high deductible is what prevents people from seeking care when needed. As a nurse, many people try to avoid seeking medical treatment until it is too late. If healthcare were more affordable, people wouldn’t be intimated to go to the doctor, get their disease diagnosed early, and get treatment as soon as possible.
The United States is far from having universal health care compared to other countries, such as Canada. Aside from individual and federal costs, other common arguments against universal healthcare include the possibility of general system inefficiencies, such as long patient wait times and a stifling of medical entrepreneurship and innovation. However, there are still ways that we can address healthcare disparity. Healthcare leaders and medical professionals can help to advance health equity by improving access to care and lowering uninsured rates (6 examples of Health Disparities & Potential Solutions, 2021). In addition, care facilities can implement community outreach efforts and chronic disease management programs to promote health knowledge in affected populations (6 examples of Health Disparities & Potential Solutions, 2021). By expanding educational programming, healthcare organizations can play a critical role in increasing the health literacy of affected groups (6 examples of Health Disparities & Potential Solutions, 2021). Healthcare organizations should identify the highest-risk groups and target educational and support programs accordingly for maximum impact (6 examples of Health Disparities & Potential Solutions, 2021). Healthcare providers can work with policymakers to advocate for action to assist communities impacted by these factors (6 examples of Health Disparities & Potential Solutions, 2021). They can, for example, use health disparity data and evidence-based clinical knowledge to recommend expanding health coverage to individuals with limited access to health care (6 examples of Health Disparities & Potential Solutions, 2021).
American Public Health Association. (n.d.). Social Justice and health. Retrieved from https://www.apha.org/what-is-public-health/generation-public-health/our-work/social-justice
6 examples of Health Disparities & Potential Solutions. USC EMHA Online. (2021, April 27). Retrieved from https://healthadministrationdegree.usc.edu/blog/examples-of-health-disparities/
To me, social justice is fair and equal opportunity for everyone. Meaning, any person, regardless of their beliefs, background, and color of their skin, deserves the same treatment, unless their actions warrant something different of course. This could be considered the same as socialized medicine potentially. Unfortunately, not everyone in today’s day and age can afford healthcare and their resources.
I don’t believe the healthcare system is fair. I think there are more people and companies that are more concerned about what they gain from something than what they can give or contribute. However, it appears that there are still some people out there who aren’t. According to a CNN article, there is a Nebraska surgeon that allows his patients to pay for their surgeries either with money or by volunteering their time (Lee, 2020). I feel like the world could use more surgeons, doctors and healthcare workers that are flexible like that. Let’s face it, some of these physicians make enough money for more than one lifetime, couldn’t they afford to give back occasionally.
This subject hits close to home in regards to medical debt as a year and a half ago my husband had to have emergency surgery on his hand to repair broken bones. From that of course, he had several doctor bills. One from the hospital itself, one from the anesthesia provider, one from the radiologist, one from physical therapy afterwards, the clinic visits, etc. My husband and I were making payments on two separate accounts (clinic and hospital) even though the hospital and clinic are affiliated. When the clinic bill was paid off, the hospital took it upon themselves to review our account and since the clinic bill had been completed it appeared we weren’t making sufficient payments and it was sent to collections. Keep in mind this is the hospital I have spent endless hours providing care to patients for several years. This led to them sending a summons to the bank to take all our funds on my payday, in return taking my entire paycheck, and on more than one occurrence. Situations like this undoubtedly happen to patients on a regular basis. Explaining my opinion on our unfair health system.
If I had a magic wand, I would believe the first thing I would want to fix in the healthcare system would be how expensive it is. Hopefully, this would encourage more people to seek medical care and treatment for health concerns and issues. This could cause the healthcare debt in the state to decrease. Unfortunately, I do believe the healthcare system could use some change.
Lee, L. (2020). How one Nebraska surgeon is fighting patient medical debt with volunteerism. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/28/us/doctor-takes-payments-in-volunteerism-aguila-cfc/index.htmlLinks to an external site.
Social justice, socialized medicine, and communism are not the same thing. According to
Stanhope and Lancaster (2020), there is sense of fairness between shared responsibilities and there is government involvement to help facilitate. Socialized medicine refers to everyone having equal access to healthcare paid for by government funds. Communism refers to removal of the class system where all property is government owned in an effort to create social equality. All of these ideals look good on paper, and they all seem to fall short in reality.
One example where social justice falls short in Atlanta is with the public school system. Within Atlanta Public Schools there is a vast range of income of students across the city. At schools where the majority of kids come from wealthier homes, the facilities are nicer, better kept, and the test scores correlate.
My dad was born in Cuba and his family left in the early ‘60s. My grandfather was an orthopedic surgeon and in Cuba they were very well off and lived in a large house. With the rise of communism, the house was going to be taken away from them anyways, so they left and they had to leave everything behind. Their house has since been turned into a school. The housing assigned by the government has fallen apart and they are without most resources and food.
Our current healthcare system is not fair. People have no control over the diseases that they are born with, and the current system is set up for those with money to thrive. The majority of the country is against socialized medicine but what people don’t realize is that we all pay for everyone’s medical bills anyways, but it would be cheaper on the front end with preventative care.
Atlanta has a very large health system that includes a hospital with the only level 1 trauma center, the only burn unit, the best stroke center, and many primary care offices and every outpatient service you can think of. Grady is a public hospital, and it focuses on treating and offering preventative care to the underserved community. It is funded by the 2 counties that make Atlanta, federal funds, and private donations. The goal of the organization is to make primary care services and outpatient available and affordable to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations. This is the most fair healthcare system in Georgia. They even provide transportation to appointments.
Some downfalls are that governor of Georgia did not expand Medicaid and that has limited funds. Also, the patients still have to put in effort and apply for a Grady card. Some people still aren’t willing to do this. There were a couple of patients that went to the ER almost every day for years and never paid any bills. They would call 911 and go by ambulance which is also owned by the hospital, so it was a double negative impact. This hospital finally ran the numbers and found out that it would be cheaper to pay for these patients to have long-term care at a facility than continue to spend to the cost for the ER care.
At least at some level the medical system should be socialized. Everyone should have access to primary care and necessary medications. There should be more of a community focus. There should be education for the community about what’s good for one of us is good for all us. We need to create a more of an us-centered, instead of me-centered thought process. Mental healthcare should be given a much bigger priority. Right now, there are very limited resources for healthcare, and it is not seen as a priority. Mental health needs to be considered more in all forms of healthcare. Complementary and alternative medicines also need to be incorporated regularly. These are just some changes that would offer better healthcare and make the system a little more fair.
Stanhope, M., and Lancaster, J. (2020). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care
in the community (10th ed.). Elsevier.