Why Health Equity Matters

Updated on March 23, 2024

Personal health is our most valuable resource. It enables us to care for our loved ones, achieve personal and professional growth, and make a meaningful impact on the world. Yet not everyone has equal access to dependable healthcare. This is particularly true for minority and rural communities, where preventable conditions are more prevalent.

Additionally, social determinants of health reveal significant disparities for Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaskan Native people compared to White populations. Research shows that 19.4% of Asian Americans, compared to 12.9% of Caucasians, do not have a regular healthcare provider. This finding highlights a broader issue: Many Asian American subgroups are inadequately represented in health research. 

Typically, data for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are grouped together, obscuring individual subgroup differences. A more detailed analysis reveals disparities, such as Cambodians and Vietnamese being three times more likely to forgo doctor’s visits than the general Asian or U.S. resident populations. 

Moreover, these healthcare inequalities have substantial economic implications. According to a 2018 study by Altarum, health inequities lead to an estimated $93 billion in excess medical costs and an annual loss of $42 billion in productivity. 

Understanding the root causes of these disparities is critical. It’s not merely a matter of fairness or social justice; ensuring equal access to healthcare is an investment in our collective future. Let’s dive a little deeper into health equity and why it matters. 

What Is Health Equity and Why Does It Matter? 

Health equity revolves around ensuring equal access to healthcare for individuals across all demographic groups. Healthcare systems that prioritize health equity as a foundational value aim to offer a range of key benefits for both patients and the wider community. 

Among these benefits, accessibility stands out as a crucial element. Care systems committed to advancing health equity work diligently to ensure that everyone can receive the care they need. Regardless of gender, race, social status, or personal background, individuals encounter fewer obstacles when seeking treatments, medical procedures, and preventive or specialist care. 

Additionally, nurturing cultural competency is very common among providers that prioritize health equity. How can cultural competence improve health equity? Cultural competence helps clinicians and providers understand the cultural differences within their patient demographic, which in turn fosters open communication and builds trust between healthcare providers and patients. 

On the financial side, affordability remains a significant concern. In 2022, the average amount spent on healthcare by Americans was $13,413, and this figure is projected to rise to $20,425 by 2030, with an annual growth rate of 4.3%. A primary objective of health equity is to overcome financial barriers that prevent patients from accessing necessary care. This can be achieved by healthcare systems diversifying their insurance options and providing financial aid. 

Furthermore, advocacy and engagement flourish when a larger portion of a community has access to quality care, empowering individuals to voice their opinions and advocate for broader policy changes. This active engagement can enable communities to play a significant role in shaping future healthcare provisions. 

How to Promote Health Equity 

Equal access is the first step toward health equity and all it provides. But taking steps toward a more equitable healthcare system will call on all types of expertise. Here’s how to make it happen: 

1. Connect with the community. 

An equitable health system that engages patients and the community can achieve good outcomes faster and more effectively. Talk with the communities you’ll be serving to learn about the healthcare issues that most afflict them. Then, put those findings into action to provide affordable care access to patients of all backgrounds without barriers. 

2. Be collaborative. 

Equitable healthcare is most impactful when carried out by a competent, caring team. Join forces with a variety of providers, government entities, and community organizations to learn about the barriers underserved communities face and how your combined efforts can better cater to their needs. 

3. Embrace virtual options. 

Equity also means providing access to resources that can treat people within your community from a distance. Embrace telemedicine and virtual care options to expand the reach and accessibility of your services. These innovations can help patients in remote or rural areas receive quality care at their convenience. 

4. Promote healthcare literacy. 

Treatment is only half the battle for some providers. Educating patients about the origins of their conditions and how to prevent future occurrences is critical. Practice open communication with patients, and provide reading materials, seminars, and other insights. This approach enables them to recognize warning signs and confidently discuss their conditions, allowing for quicker resolution. 

Achieving health equity is essential for enhancing both access and quality of care for all. While it’s not easy to achieve, the effort is undoubtedly worthwhile. Embracing a healthcare philosophy that benefits multiple communities is key to making healthcare available to all. 

Nishant Shukla copy
Nishant Shukla
Vice President of Marketing at Clever Care Health Plan

Nishant Shukla is the Vice President of Marketing at Clever Care Health Plan, which provides Medicare beneficiaries with high-quality, culturally sensitive Medicare options built on the customs, values, and linguistic needs of the communities it serves.