In an environment where there is so much difference in the level of health between people of different races and socio-economic backgrounds, both before and after they receive medical attention, it is hard
to imagine what health equity would look like.
From my perspective the final result of desirable and equal levels of health for all people, could be approached by addressing the issues of access, affordability, and attitude.
In this new reality, access to care would ensure everyone would not only be able to get medical attention in a timely manner, but that the care received would be of high quality, comprehensive and respectful of the cultural traditions and practices of each patient. Here the term access deals with three distinct challenges: 1) the removal of barriers to initial and subsequent medical attention and intervention; 2) the availability of appropriate medical professionals, as well as; 3) the methods of service delivery and the levels of communication and understanding during each interaction.
Putting healthcare within the financial grasp of the general population requires examination of and attention to the circumstances and resources of each individual. This is a potentially time consuming, but necessary process that would allow individuals to pay a fair share of the cost of healthcare. For greater efficiency, guidelines could be established, that would clearly explain the levels of financial contribution based on income, assets and unusual circumstances. As I envision it — and numerous studies show — most people would gladly give financial support to a healthcare system that would take care of their needs.
As it stands now, those with healthcare insurance pay more, in order to cover the costs of those who can’t afford insurance or care. Clearly the achievement of health equity relies on the delicate balance of financial fairness, in which the less fortunate are expected to contribute based on income and assets, and the middle class and wealthy are not penalized due to economic success and privilege.
Finally, people must trust the persons and institutions delivering their care. They must know and believe that the healthcare they receive is of high quality, and have confidence that their race, ethnicity, language, cultural traditions, sexual orientation, or economic status will not negatively impact the amount, or quality of the care they receive. In the end, health equity will be achieved when we acknowledge the aforementioned factors in combination with the impact of economic inequity and choose to create systems that will respect and protect humanity.