PHI 3200 Health Care Problem Analysis

PHI 3200 Health Care Problem Analysis

Analysis of Health Care Inequalities for African Americans

In the United States, various diseases affect individuals of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and chronic kidney disease. Ideally, physicians should base their treatment decisions on the patient’s symptoms. However, this is not always the case regarding people of color receiving care. 

Although a physician’s intention to do good for their patients, personal biases, myths, and assumptions learned in medical school or acquired from others in the field can influence their approach to black health care, this often results in a less thorough evaluation and testing for black patients than their white counterparts. 

PHI 3200 Health Care Problem Analysis

In addition to facing limited resources for housing and access to quality care, African Americans also experience significantly lower incomes than other racial demographics. As a result, they heavily rely on Medicaid for health services. 

Even if families can afford health insurance, the out-of-pocket costs for regular visits and deductibles are often unaffordable (Taylor, 2021). Furthermore, there is an underlying skepticism within the African American community toward medical treatments and care provided by white doctors. This mistrust stems from firsthand experiences of racism and stories passed down through generations.

One prominent example that contributed to this mistrust is the Tuskegee experiment in the 1930s, which led to a significant distrust of doctors and the government. In this experiment, black men in Macon, GA, were intentionally denied effective treatments for syphilis over 40 years. 

The participants were not informed of their syphilis diagnosis and were promised free medical exams, treatment, and medication but were only given placebos or vitamins (Munson, 2014). Although the issue was exposed in 1972 and attempts were made to rectify it, health disparities continue to impact the black community due to the historical belief that black biology and comprehension abilities are inferior to whites (Golemon, 2019).

PHI 3200 Health Care Problem Analysis

When moral and ethical principles are not considered in patient care, it deprives patients of their ability to make informed decisions about their health, delays effective treatment options, and further erodes trust in the healthcare system. 

The Tuskegee experiment violated moral principles such as autonomy, nonmaleficence, and distributive justice. The research conducted from 1932 to 1972 prevented the men involved from knowing their infection status and denied them access to treatments other than placebos or vitamins. 

Withholding information and treatment infringed upon the patients’ autonomy and harmed not only the men but also their wives and children exposed to syphilis. Physicians are bound by the principle of nonmaleficence, which emphasizes “above all, do not harm” (Munson, 2014). 

However, in this case, the belief that African Americans were of a lower class and inferior allowed the researchers to mistreat these men, showing a lack of care and intentionally causing harm and death. 

PHI 3200 Health Care Problem Analysis

Furthermore, the researchers failed to uphold the principle of distributive justice by including Caucasian men in the study to compare their experiences with the disease. This failure of distributive justice continues today, as studies have shown that black patients are less likely to be referred for life-saving treatments than white patients (Golemon, 2019).

The ethical issues discussed above significantly impact patients, healthcare providers, and medical facilities. Patients are affected by these ethical issues as they face mistrust in the medical profession, leading to delayed treatment for illnesses. 

Black patients are aware that their symptoms may be disregarded, they may not be referred for necessary testing, and they may be treated with prejudice. Healthcare providers and hospitals are also affected, particularly in low-income areas with a lack of facilities, leading to a reliance on community health centers.

Physicians in these underserved areas must work or travel to these locations and their affiliated hospitals to care for patients. Conversely, patients may need to travel outside their service area to access treatment if transportation is available (Taylor, 2020). Therefore, healthcare providers cannot evade their duty to help those who do not trust them.

PHI 3200 Health Care Problem Analysis

Regarding policies, regulations, and legal components, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was introduced in 2010 to provide affordable insurance options for low-income Americans (Buchmueller et al., 2020). 

The ACA aimed to improve access to care for those who previously faced financial insecurity and other disparities. However, in 2017, changes made by President Donald Trump and other Republicans, such as the elimination of the individual mandate, resulted in increased premiums and a rise in uninsured individuals (Buchmueller et al., 2020). 

Health care has become a politicized issue, as seen in the response to Covid-19 over the past year. Rather than focusing on protecting others for the greater good, people have become more concerned about which political party promotes vaccines or wearing masks. Meanwhile, black communities nationwide have disproportionately suffered from the virus and have faced unequal care and treatment.

Various solutions have been proposed and implemented through legislation. One solution that promotes distributive justice and equal healthcare standards for all, regardless of economic standing, geographic location, or skin color, is the “Medicare-for-All” plan. 

PHI 3200 Health Care Problem Analysis

This plan, championed by Senator Bernie Sanders and endorsed by many other representatives and senators, proposes creating a federal program financed by taxes to replace all private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

This financing model eliminates premiums and out-of-pocket costs for families, ultimately leading to better economic outcomes (Taylor, 2021). Implementing such a program would help uninsured and underinsured access care without financial insecurities.

Furthermore, insurance companies and state agencies are starting to implement strategies to address social determinants of health. Identifying these determinants helps patients bridge gaps in care, address food insecurities, improve access to transportation, and secure affordable housing (Gostin et al., 2020). 

For instance, United Health Care has a project team that contacts patients to identify social determinants of health (SDoH) and connects them with food, housing, medical equipment, and financial security resources.

In conclusion, while the medical field has made significant advancements in discovering new medicines, technology, and cures, there is still a long way to go in addressing systemic racism in healthcare.  PHI 3200 Health Care Problem Analysis

Implementing new methods and approaches that ensure equal care for individuals from all walks of life is crucial. Initiatives like Medicare-for-All can serve as a starting point in the right direction, offering black Americans the freedom of choice and access to care without insecurity.


Munson, R. (2013). Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Bioethics, Concise Edition. Cengage Limited. [Online]. Available at:

Taylor, J. (2021, June 4). Racism, inequality, and health care for African Americans. The Century Foundation. Retrieved May 17, 2023, from

Gostin, L. O., & Friedman, E. A. (2020). Health Inequalities. Hastings Center Report, 50(4), 6-8.

Golemon, L. (2019). Medical Overtesting and Racial Distrust. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 29(3), 273-303.

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