Written by staff writer Prisha Puntambekar
Issues around healthcare have threatened low-wage communities for decades, but COVID-19 brings a disturbing new light to America’s lack of support for lower socioeconomic classes.
“We have more than 80 million people in our country who are […] forced into unacceptable choices between purchasing their medicine versus putting food on the table,” a US News article about vulnerable communities stated. “Research has highlighted that there is racial bias in medicine that leads to worse care for black and brown people and that the treatment often received is substandard.”
USA Today established that people of color have higher chances of suffering with conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. An article from their website stated, “In addition to the elderly, people at risk for serious health risks and death from the coronavirus have underlying conditions.” Studies show that individuals with preexisting health conditions are more likely to battle COVID-19.
In essence, communities of color require significant attention during a global pandemic. However, a lack of proper healthcare access prevents these communities from receiving their necessities. According to NCBI, “Blacks and Hispanics are less likely to have insurance coverage from a private employer, whether directly or through a spouse.”
ABC News also stated, “According to the CDC, even though the racial breakdown from the population in the report was 59% white, 14% Latino and 18% black, 45% of hospitalized coronavirus patients were white and 8% were Latino, while 33% were black.” Such statistics reveal that, although minorities make up the smaller portion of the nation’s population, they make up the largest population in hospitals during this time. If citizens originally received free healthcare, caring for preexisting conditions would be more easily accomplished. As a result, citizens of color would have been less prone to suffering from COVID-19.
Additionally, communities of color lack the biggest weapon against COVID-19 – social distancing. Most low-wage workers live in small apartments, and according to CBS, “Doctors say people who live in apartment complexes are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.” In apartment buildings, maintaining a six foot distance from others becomes difficult. Due to the unchangeable circumstances of their shelter, low-wage workers expose themselves to more germs. With more dangerous exposure, the workers require healthcare desperately. Unfortunately, socioeconomic factors have dictated their safety instead.
On the other hand, anti-healthcare advocates believe nonprofit hospitals make a sufficient substitution for free healthcare. Yet, the financial dependability of such hospitals is intertwined with political instability. Budget cuts and tax laws could shake the foundations of nonprofits.
In consideration of health, population, and housing factors, poor communities fall victim to a global pandemic which the government failed to protect them from; in a fight against free healthcare, the lower class of Americans were punished for circumstances that were out of their control.
As one of the world’s most developed countries, the nation’s lack of care for suffering Americans is ironic. Rather than honoring the country’s reputation, the American government turned a human need into a partisan issue. As long as the correlation between healthcare and COVID-19 case disparities prevails, the American government is disgracing its low-wage workers.