2021 Equity Challenge Day 12: Inequity in Health Care

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Champion of the civil rights movement

Earlier in the challenge, we examined the wealth gap. A similar gap exists in health care: the health-wealth gap. This is the disparity between racial groups when measuring health outcomes influenced by race, income and gender. Socioeconomic status and institutional racism lead to disparities across living conditions, limit access to quality health care and contribute to chronic stress. These factors lead to shorter lifespans and higher likelihood of adverse health outcomes for people living in poverty and people of color.  

The World Health Organization notes, “Health inequities are differences in health status or in the distribution of health resources between different population groups, arising from the social conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. Health inequities are unfair and could be reduced by the right mix of government policies.” Reflecting back to Day Six, “Understanding Inequity Through Data,” we learn from the ALICE Report that health care costs make up a major portion of a household’s budget. According to the report, health care costs caused a significant increase in a Household Survival budget due to out-of-pocket expenses and lack of quality access to health care. This is especially true for elderly households, where reduced income and increased health care costs place an increasing burden on their budget.



Check out this fact sheet exploring the compounding impact of socioeconomic status and race on health. (3 minutes)

Browse this resource to learn about how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial and ethnic health disparities. (5 minutes)

Read this summary of infant mortality in Detroit. (3 minutes)


Watch Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones explain social determinants of health. (5 minutes)

Watch this TED Talk on “How Racism Makes Us Sick.” (17 minutes)

Watch and share this Virtual Town Hall between United Way and Mothering Justice on “Equity in Black Maternal Health.” (33 minutes)


Listen to this podcast from The New York Times on “how racial health disparities have been as foundational as democracy itself.” (39 minutes)

Reflect And Share:

  1. Have you or someone you know been impacted by health inequities or limited access to health care?
  2. How has COVID-19 impacted different race and culture groups?


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hastag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC21