A change of perspective

This semester I have learned so much about the US healthcare system. The weekly readings were always very interesting and applied directly to what was being discussed in class. Before taking SO215, I was aware that healthcare was extremely expensive in the US, and that millions still remain uninsured. However, I was completely unaware of the numerous issues that plague our system, such as medical underwriting, the Chargemaster, and the statistical data behind the effects of the gender gap. Additionally, I greatly enjoyed evaluating the US healthcare system through a sociological lens, especially during discussion.

One of my favorite discussion sections was when we all brainstormed factors from our regional community that may contribute to a higher or lower level of health. This discussion occurred during the week in which we were learning about the impact of SES and ones zip code on one’s health. During discussion it was intriguing to hear about the different communities that my peers grew up in and how their communities affected their health and access to resources. For example, I shared a positive aspect of my community in New Hampshire, in which there are many farmers markets for community members to utilize. Farmers markets promote local, healthy eating, as often fresh fruits and vegetables are sold. As we learned in class, the access to farmers markets, as well as additional factors such as clean air, effect the health of those in the community greatly.

Lastly, I have greatly appreciated the recent discussions about end-of-life care. While it is extremely difficult to talk about death and dying, it is a critical discussion that we all ought to have with our loved ones. Through our discussions on this topic, I am motivated to reach out to my family members and ask the type of care they would wish for themselves at their end of life. It would be horrible to be put in the position of trying guess what he/she would want, as was seen in the movie.

Overall, this semester has been very enjoyable and I will definitely use the knowledge I have gained when working in the medical field!

Affordable Care Act and Low Socio-Economic Status

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/us/politics/obama-administration-campaign-will-publicize-health-care-subsidies.html?ref=health

On Thursday the Obama administration stated that it would wage a national advertising campaign to help people with low incomes get the affordable insurance that they were promised via the Affordable Care Act. People from a low socio-economic status claim that even under the Affordable Care Act, health care is still not affordable for low-income workers.

The goal of this campaign is to advertise a three-month open enrollment period, which will allow people to compare and select health plans. The enrollment period starts this Sunday. Another goal of the campaign is to spread awareness Continue reading “Affordable Care Act and Low Socio-Economic Status”

COLOR BLIND

In “Understanding Racial-ethnic Disparities in Health : Sociological Contributions”, David Williams and Michelle Sternthal explore racial and ethnic inequalities in health in the United States. Personally, I am a proponent of color-blindness, but I question if it is a possibility in America’s future. The section of this publication titled “Racism and Health” opened my eyes to the concrete data and evidence that shows that our nation is still inherently racist, both intentionally and unintentionally. Williams and Sternthal reveal the very real presence of racial segregation that remains in this nation to this day, and this concerns me greatly.

Is institutional and wide-spread color-blindness a possibility in the future here in the United States? What, if anything, can/must be done to bring this change about? Is segregation and racism an unavoidable and everlasting aspect of our cultural fabric now?

Continue reading “COLOR BLIND”

The impact of SES and social inequalities in health

I thought that the theory about the association between socioeconomic status and mortality presented in this week’s reading was accurate in some aspects, but somewhat unrealistic in their expectations.

This theory basically seeks to understand why there is still an association between SES and mortality as there use to be. They state that, in the past, this difference in mortality rates was due to the fact that people with higher SES was able to be protected (because of their access to resources) against infectious diseases, fever, tuberculosis, and other conditions that by now have been pretty much eradicated. Therefore, this theory suggests that the fact that this difference still persists even now suggests that we might be missing a broader, more general problem that accounts for the difference in mortality rates.

I personally believe that the main reason why this difference still persists is because, in spite of the fact that these diseases previously mentioned have been eradicated, many other factors have come into play in the current society that still causes people with higher SES to have a lower mortality incidence. In the globalized society we are currently, people have probably higher levels of stress, which is known to be the underlying cause of many diseases. People of lower SES usually are under higher levels of stress, which puts them more at risk of developing these diseases.

The theory also talks about the fact that a way to eliminate this difference is to minimize the extent to which socioeconomic resources buy a health advantage. However, how can this be feasible? Even if new intervention strategies are developed, as they mention in the article, how will this be available equally to all people, regardless of their economical status? I feel like the disparity would only be accentuated because people of lower SES would not be able to access this resources.

Fostering health inequalities with capitalism

In the article “Social Conditions as Fundamental Causes of Health Inequalities: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications” by Phelan et al., the authors insist that the connection between socioeconomic resources and preventative health care needs to be broken. The article outlines ways to fix this inequality between health and mortality of people with different socioeconomic statuses. However, this inequality does not seem like a shocking piece of information to me. We live in a capitalist society, which means that those with the money can buy themselves the best and most expensive health care and those less fortunate are unable to receive all the benefits a person with a higher SES might receive. The author tries to fix this issue, however, with our strongly capitalist society, is this inequality in health and mortality even possible to fix? It makes sense that people with a low SES have the most dangerous jobs, such as meat processing jobs discussed in Weitz chapter 3. This pattern of high mortality rates for people with a low SES seems perfectly logical in the way our society is organized. I agree with the authors of this article that in a perfect world it would be great to fix this inequality so everyone is at an equal risk of death and illness, however, is this an issue worth pursuing? The author even states that this pattern persisted when radical changes in the disease and risk factors were implemented. Will this association between low SES and high disease and mortality rates ever be eradicated?

Theory of Fundamental Causes

In Phelan and Link’s article, they discuss the theory of fundamental causes. This theory claims that socioeconomic status and mortality/health correlate with one another, even as intervening mechanisms change. Is it possible that a change in an intervening mechanism would be an advantage to those with lower SES? Or does this change in mechanism overtime always gives an advantage to those with higher SES?