2024 Equity Challenge Day 12: Navigating Access to Health Care

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.


▶ LISTEN TO DAY 12- 5:49

Health care, a fundamental human right, reveals persistent disparities across various identity markers—race, ethnicity, gender, and the often-overlooked realm of mental health considerations. Today’s challenge will explore inequity in health care access and how we can build a more inclusive health care system, together.

So, what is access to health care? According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, access to health care is defined as the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best possible health outcomes. Yet, the process of accessing quality and timely health care that is proactive and affordable varies greatly based on your identities, employment, ZIP codes, and more. Because of these wide disparities, access to health care is one of the five domains making up social determinants of health. Social determinants of health are defined as the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality of life outcomes and risks.

Your access to health care largely depends on navigating a complex and universally inequitable health care system. Deeply rooted historical inequities and systemic barriers perpetuate health care access disparities. The World Health Organization cites that marginalized communities encounter barriers that impede timely and quality services at a higher rate.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.” – MLK

When we dig deeper, we find that inadequate health insurance coverage is one of the largest barriers to health care access. In the United States, there is an un-equal distribution of quality health insurance as insurance is often linked to your job, which is connected to your ZIP code, education, race, gender, etc. Many people often end up in medical debt when seeking support and may skip future and proactive appointments to save costs. On top of this, people of color, particularly Black and brown people, have historically faced discriminatory and unethical medical research practices and a lack of culturally competent care. This all comes together to create our current reality where minority groups account for more than half of the uninsured population in the United States.

Ultimately this is just a scratch on the surface on how access to health care creates wide gaps and furthers health disparities based on our identities. The National Institute on Mental Health’s work encourages us to remember that these historical injustices persist, and many of the inequities that already existed in our health system were exacerbated during COVID-19 health crisis, casting shadows on contemporary challenges, particularly in mental health.

We encourage you to explore the resources below for a more comprehensive understanding of the forces shaping health care access today, who is most harmed in our current system, and how you can act to be part of a better future where health care is accessible to all.





  • Check out the organizations below for services or ways to get involved in health care access in Detroit:
    • Corktown Health: A LGBTQ-focused primary health care center in Detroit. For services, call 313-832-3300
    • Detroit Health Department: Office of Public Health Equity and Wellness, actively addressing health disparities and advocating for equitable health care in the city.

Reflect And Share

  1. What is something you learned today or something that resonates with you the most?
  2. After reviewing today’s content, how would you describe health care access and its barriers based on our identities?
  3. What health disparities or inequities do you believe exist within your own community? What would an inclusive health care system look like? What would it need to include? How could that be achieved?


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 hashtag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC24