As a public health equity intern and an African American woman, I read the findings expressed in Sarah Wilson’s Newsline article, “High Costs, Systemic Racism Hurts Healthcare, Colorado Findings.” wanted to agree with
Blacks and Indigenous peoples and people of color in the United States have greater health disparities than whites. This is largely due to the prevalence of systemic racism that has resulted in several inequalities in the areas of education, employment, income, geography, and health outcomes. Therefore, these populations are more likely to withhold treatment for various illnesses and injuries. One of the reasons for this alarming trend is the lack of access to healthcare due to healthcare costs.
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One of the most prevalent diseases among blacks, Native Americans, and people of color is tuberculosis. This respiratory disease is one of the oldest epidemics and has been around for over two centuries. In fact, evidence of tuberculosis has been found in ancient Egyptian mummies. Although the number of Americans living with tuberculosis has declined significantly in recent years, most cases of tuberculosis are found in communities of color.
In addition, treatment of tuberculosis infections requires fewer medications and shorter regimens. However, if it is not diagnosed and treated promptly, the infection progresses to a potentially fatal disease.
All Americans, regardless of socioeconomic status, have a basic right to affordable, quality health care.
The World Health Organization has created the ambitious “End TB” initiative with the goal of reducing the number of people contracting tuberculosis and the number of deaths from tuberculosis by 90% and 95%, respectively, by 2035. The goal was to eliminate the “devastating” health care costs for low-income families affected by TB. Doing this reduces the financial burden on these individuals and makes them more likely to seek treatment for conditions that can be easily cured if detected early.
While we can’t completely eliminate health care costs at this time, all Americans, regardless of socioeconomic status, have a basic right to affordable, quality health care. Despite living in one of the most developed countries in the world, he cannot accept the fact that people living at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum cannot enjoy this right. In fact, this is a chronic problem that requires our collective attention, both as a state and as a nation.
Colorado recently spearheaded efforts to provide affordable health care to all residents of the state. These include the establishment of the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care and passage of the Colorado Option.
I urge all other states to follow Colorado’s example. all Americans have access to healthcare. You should contact local and state government officials to determine if they also support statewide public health insurance options.