Health care disparities refer to differences witnessed in the quality of medical services and other health care related services among different groups of people. As such, these differences occur in areas where access to the services is not hindered in any way and medical needs, preferences and suitability of the medical intervention are similar (Egede, 2006).
This means that despite having an equal level of access to health care services as the rest of the residents of an area, a particular group receives a lower quality of health care services compared to the rest. These are linked to several sources such as race, ethnicity and gender among others.
This kind of discrimination may occur consciously or unconsciously with some of the causes being patient inaccessibility to some healthcare types, ignorance, poor communication, as well as cultural, geographical and other background factors of the patient.
Reasons why some women in general face barriers to healthcare
One of the reasons why some women face health care disparity is culture. Some cultures place more emphasis on the value of men in the society thus leaving behind the women. In addition, culture dictates the type of careers women in the region are allowed to take. This occurs due to excessive male dominance in society.
As such, they end up taking up low paying jobs that require them to do several jobs at once leading to imbalance between work and family responsibilities and hence lack of time to acquire quality health care services. Another reason for this is the marital status (Weiss, Whelan, & Arons, 2009).
In some regions, unmarried women face barriers to health insurance because their married sisters enjoy the insurance coverage through their husbands’ insurance policies. Moreover, health insurance plans in the market cover common illnesses that affect both genders only. Since some medical complications can only be witnessed by women such as pregnancy related complications and maternity bills, women are thus discriminated upon by such plans. Moreover, practices by insurance companies such as gender rating cause gender disparity by charging women higher premiums compared to their male counterparts. Others face disparity due to their low level of education and lack of knowledge on their health care rights as well as low financial stability (Mathur, n.d).
Types of evidence on ethnic disparities in health care for women
Ethic disparity in health care for women is evidenced in different areas. One is health insurance cover. Here, white women have more coverage compared to African American women and Latinas. For instance, only less than two thirds of Latina women have any form of medical cover while more than half of the population of White women enjoys a comprehensive health insurance cover.
Another is the level of barriers to access to health care (KFF, 2004). The level of income varies among the White women, African American women and Latina women, which in turn affect the level of access to health care.
Other evidence relates to the level of using preventive health services and the level of information on healthcare rights where the White women seem to have an upper edge followed by African American women, then Latinas and Asian women. Szczepura (2005) noted that women of color faced more disparity in terms of health care provision due to their low level of education and high ignorance.
Egede, L. E., (2006). “Race, Ethnicity, Culture and Disparities in Health Care.” Journal of General Intern Med. Vol. 21 (6), p 667-669. Retrieved from:
Mathur, V. (n.d). Special Groups of Women and the Barriers They Face When Seeking
Reproductive Health Care. Retrieved from: http://www.cwru.edu/med/epidbio/mphp439/Special_Groups.htm
KFF. (2004). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Women’s Health Coverage and Access to Care Findings from the 2001 Kaiser Women’s Health Survey. Retrieved from:
Szczepura, A., (2005). “Access to Health Care for Ethnic Minority Populations.”
Postgraduate Medical Journal. Vol. 81 p 141-147. Retrieved from:
Weiss, L., Whelan, E. & Arons, J., (2009). Unmarried and Uninsured;
Single Women Face Additional Health Insurance Barriers. Retrieved from: