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Race, Ethnic and Gender Disparities inHealthcareTricia GhunneyExcelsior CollegeRace, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Healthcare
The US population continues to grow increasingly diverse with some studies estimating that ethnic “minorities” and “people of color” will represent more than 50% of the US population by 2045 (Artiga, 2017). Disparities in healthcare have been a long standing problem in the US and consist of differences in access to healthcare as well as healthcare outcomes among various social groups and among genders within the same social group. These disparities translate into certain individuals being either denied healthcare or receiving sub-standard, low quality healthcare because of their racial, ethnic or gender identity. This paper analyzes the issue of race, ethnic and gender disparities in healthcare in the US from the sociological perspective of Conflict. The foundations of the Conflict perspective in sociology have been primarily established by Karl Marx (Joseph, 2003). According to this perspective, society is not viewed from the positive lenses or Functionalist or Interactionist. Instead, society isviewed in terms of perpetual conflict between the different classes of society. Unlike Functionalism and Interactionism, the Conflict perspective continuously drives the society towards change than can happen peacefully for forcefully (civil unrest and even revolutions). The Conflict perspective of society pioneered mostly by Marx have been further developed by American sociologists who identified economic factors as the major driving force for societal Conflict. In the context of this paper, healthcare disparities between different races and ethnicities as well as between genders are mirroring a societal conflict for economic resources.The choice of the Conflict perspective in treating the issue of healthcare disparities makes perfectsense in a deeply capitalistic society such as the US society. This perspective narrows the research into the root causes of healthcare disparities towards financial and economic issues. With the sharp continuous increase in the cost of healthcare during the past decade, focusing on the economic component of Conflict makes sense.
The choice of the topic of race, ethnic and gender disparities in healthcare is motivated by the fact that it touches on the one of the most basic human needs: health. Health is at the very base ofMaslow’s pyramidal hierarchy of needs. Poor access to health care often means poor health and often translates to a quick collapse of all of the societal functions of any individual. Additionally, healthcare disparities represent issues that are very personal to many of us who identify themselves as “women of color”. In particular, African American women are at the forefront of the healthcare disparities discussion. Finally, the choice of this topic is motivated by the currentlychallenging social atmosphere in the US. The takeover of the White House by an administration