Underrepresented or marginalized groups throughout the United States often face challenges in accessing high-quality healthcare. Equitable healthcare means addressing not just historical injustices, but current socio-economic gaps and disparities. Even if people can access healthcare, they may face discrimination or bias that negatively affects the quality of care they receive. This article will outline steps people facing inequitable care can take to proactively advocate for themselves with healthcare professionals and government agencies.
Advocating for Equitable Care
If you are experiencing bias or discrimination with your doctor, there are straightforward ways to advocate for yourself. Your doctor may not be intentionally discriminating against you, which means it's all the more important to speak up.
1. File a Formal Complaint
One way is by filing a formal complaint with the hospital or other institution involved with your care. Large and medium-sized healthcare organizations have special departments for handling these complaints and can address your concerns.
2. Change Healthcare Providers
You can also change providers. If you think that your doctor is biased, find a different doctor who will hear your concerns. Everyone deserves to have a healthcare provider who will treat them well, listen to their symptoms, and hear their concerns. Doctors should listen to your values and show genuine interest in your care, rather than dismissing you out of hand.
3. Address More Than Just Physical Care
You can also speak up about things that aren't directly related to the care you receive. Having a doctor who looks like you, feels welcoming, speaks your language, or even shares your religious values can make a big difference in the quality of care. You deserve healthcare that supports you as an entire person, not just with physical care.
4. Access Government Resources
Advocating for yourself inside the government system can be difficult, but Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs exist to help expand access to healthcare. Unfortunately, accessing these systems can be hard. The CMS Office of Minority Health has resources that can help you get the care you need from these government programs.
5. Work With Local Organizations
There are local organizations you can work with to advocate for more equitable healthcare throughout your community. These organizations support medical research, lobby local lawmakers, and support people in North Carolina. The North Carolina Alliance for Heath has helpful resources for people facing inequitable healthcare situations and offers training to help partners better advocate for equitable care throughout the state. You can get involved with a donation or by volunteering. The North Carolina Justice Center also advocates for improved healthcare access for marginalized communities across the state and has a dedicated staff for healthcare-related issues.
6. Support Medical Research
You can also support medical research into disparities in preventative care. Members of underrepresented groups are often at greater risk of serious, yet preventable health conditions. These include heart disease, cancer, obesity, asthma, and type 2 diabetes. Further research into these circumstances and how to best treat these conditions for marginalized people is needed, and you can support this work.
Senior Helpers Dunn Provides Personalized Caregiving Services
If you or your senior loved one is experiencing discrimination and inequitable healthcare, speak up. Advocating with doctors, and hospitals, and working with local organizations can get senior adults from marginalized communities access to the care they need. To learn more about how in-home caregiving services can also support equitable healthcare, contact Senior Helpers Dunn today. We support seniors throughout the Dunn, Fayetteville, Elizabethtown, Cumberland County, Robeson County, and Johnston County areas.