Serious Inequalities Found in America’s Health Care System  

By Consumers for Quality Care, on July 10, 2024

Serious Inequalities Found in America’s Health Care System  

In a new report, Axios unearthed concerning inequalities in America’s health care system, highlighting a worrisome trend that these inequalities may be getting worse. 

Axios spent over two months analyzing factors such as insurance rates, access to hospitals and medical facilities, and prescription drugs. What they found was that access to medical care was not equal across different demographics. Samantha Artiga, Vice President and Director of the Racial Equity and Health Policy Program at KFF, weighed in on the crisis, stating, “It’s not only inequities in access to the system, but…also differential experiences even within the system.”  

The analysis concluded that people of color and low-income consumers are less likely to have health insurance. Even for those with health insurance, high-deductible plans and plans that aren’t comprehensive require consumers to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars before their insurance will begin covering services, forcing many to go into medical debt. 

The report also found that regional lack of insurance corresponds to a lack of access to medical services at hospitals. Hospitals with increased shares of Medicare and Medicaid recipients lose out on revenue from privately insured consumers, meaning less funding is available for new services like birthing and cancer centers. Some consumers may even live hundreds of miles away from the nearest hospital or health care facility.  

Another major contributing factor to health inequalities is access to prescription drugs. The PBM industry’s influence on the prescription drug market has accelerated disparities in drug access and prices for consumers.  

Artiga emphasized how a consumer’s access to health care is shaped by factors such as where they live, access to nutritious and fresh food sources, and employment status. She noted, “All those factors are influenced by underlying structural inequities.”  

Reports like these make it clear that consumers are in desperate need of common-sense health care reforms. CQC urges lawmakers to take action to decrease costs and increase access to health care for all consumers, regardless of their demographic.