Study Highlights Racial Inequity in Health Care Access, Quality

A recent study finds states that exhibit higher levels of systemic racism also have pronounced racial disparities regarding access to health care. In short, the more racist a state was, the better access white people had – and the worse access Black people had.

“This study highlights the extent to which health care inequities are intertwined with other social inequities, such as employment and education,” says Vanessa Volpe, corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. “This helps explain why health inequities are so intractable. Tackling health care inequities will require us to address broader social systems that significantly benefit white people – and that makes them difficult to change.”

Previous research has examined how people’s individual experiences with racism affect the quality of their health care. There is also research that examines relationships between structural racism and health outcomes. The recent study from Volpe and her collaborators looks at structural racism at the state level, people’s individual experiences with racism, the extent to which those things affected the ability of Black people to access health care, and the quality of that health care. The researchers also examined the ability of white people to access health care and the quality of their health care.