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“The improvement of medicine would eventually prolong human life, but improvement of social conditions could achieve this result even more rapidly and successfully.” - Rudolf Virchow, German Physician, 1879
A major public health milestone was achieved in The United States in 1985 when the Department of Health and Human Services published the Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health. This marked the inception of a new era in acknowledging minority health issues. While action has been taken nationally since to address the issues noted in the report, health inequity persists and remains a distinction within American society.
The World Health Organization defines health inequities as systematic differences in the health status of different population groups. Society suffers health inequity when not everyone gets to share in the opportunities and when distributions of resources are not equal—a failure of distributive justice. These inequities have significant social and economic costs both to individuals and their communities. Achieving health equity means that everyone has the basics to be as healthy as possible. There is substantial evidence that social factors, including education, gender, ethnicity, employment status, and income level have significant influence on a person’s health. This is why health equity is a multiple-industry concern.
There are a multitude of benefits gained from investment towards health equity, including reducing suicide rates among the transgendered, lowered readmissions, improved health outcomes, and reduction of health disparities to name just a few. Health equity is not only a moral issue, but also an economic one as well.
Wise policymakers, medical centers, insurers, and providers have realized that health equity affects the bottom line. A study published in 2018 by the Connecticut Department of Public Health noted that “race and ethnicity were associated with higher hospital charges and estimated excess charges (compared to white residents) of Black residents was over $1.2 billion and $378 million for Hispanic residents.” Higher utilization was found to be a prevention failure because of undiagnosed diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Another study in the International Journal of Health Services published in 2011 found that nationally “eliminating health disparities for minorities would have reduced direct medical care expenditures by about $230 billion and indirect costs associated with illness and premature death by more than $1 trillion for the years 2003-2006.” Specifically for health insurers, racial health disparities alone were estimated to cost the U.S. $337 billion between 2009 and 2018 as reported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These are limited healthcare dollars, wasted away. Numerous measurements were used for estimating the economic impact in these studies include, but not limited to, the following:
Investing in disease prevention not only saves lives but yields a significant return on investment. For example, increasing access to arthritis treatment for 10,000 people, reducing their pain by 18% and increasing their productivity and quality of life, could save more than $2.5 million according to the Alliance for Health Reform. There are system-wide impacts as well. Increased healthcare costs erode company profits leaving less money to invest in equipment or expansion, and force companies to increase prices for their products. GM estimated that providing health insurance for its employees added $1,400 to the cost of every vehicle built in the U.S. in 2004.
Moral & Just Society
Award-winning 20th century philosopher John Rawls was interested in what makes a just and moral society. He formulated a hypothetical theory where people are equal to each other, and all humans have worth in the Original Position, and if we take a Veil of Ignorance with each other, a social contract would develop that secures basic rights for everyone and protects those in all positions of society. His theory goes on to say that the advantaged have a responsibility to the disadvantaged. Those that are disadvantaged could include those in poverty, those with chronic diseases that affect quality of life, the disabled, etc. Therefore, in the end, it is in our ultimate best interest to do this, because everyone has the potential to be in the lesser position (loss of job, health, etc.) Rawl developed these theories during the Great Depression, when people's lives regularly changed overnight. John Rawls said, “A just society is a society that if you knew everything about it, you'd be willing to enter it in a random place.” Consider that powerful thought: are you willing to be born into a low-income, Black family in Philadelphia or Chicago? Statistically, this population has the highest rate of health disparities in the country, and as a result, end up in unhealthy situations that produces another statistic: highest homicide rate in the country. At the core of Rawls theory is that no matter what our circumstance, environment, or influence, we are human, and all human interests must be observed to truly live in a moral, ethical, and just society. An example of this is the immoral nature of deep racial and ethnic disparities that remain when it comes to health coverage and equity. The refusal of nearly 20 states to expand Medicaid, particularly in the south, has left hundreds of thousands of Americans with these demographics uninsured.
Many health organizations are paying attention to health equity and they are doing so not just because it is the right thing to do, but because the financial incentives are increasingly aligning. Institutions that do not respect the importance of achieving health equity in their systems and communities will struggle as our country moves ahead toward a health system that is more patient-centered and accessible.
Kat is an award-winning writer, educator, reformer, health advocate, and believer of healthcare as a human right. She believes that most of us aren't comfortable watching people suffer when help is available, and when we assist each other in surviving, everyone benefits. She advocates for awareness, transparency, and a person’s right to know. Information about her most recent book can be found at www.toerrishealthcare.com/book-1.
Every New Moon marks the beginning of the lunar cycle, an energetic shift where our ideas can gestate and we search for new and inventive ways to make progress. Everyone can benefit from a burst of energy and initiative that marks the start of the New Moon’s 28-day cycle. Give yourself permission to connect authentically with yourself this month. Since we live in a Universe that is constantly moving, each month the New Moon is at a different place in our Cosmos allowing us a chance to plant different intentions throughout the year. A new cycle begins this time in Pisces which is about reflecting on and visualizing what you are becoming as the seeds begin to stir in the ground preparing to emerge.
Be part of a collective event done by people all over the world! Write your list after 10:32 am EST on Sunday, February 23rd, 2020.
WORD FOR THE MONTH
Imagination, healing, release, addictions, love, confusion, mystery, instincts, and nostalgia.
Happy New Moon in Pisces! This New Moon encourages us to spend time in reflection and release. A great cycle to meditate, dream, journal, and access the connection to our Higher-Self and see what needs to be healed and left behind. Pisces is the sign of the collective unconscious. Societal transformation is required and in our hands right now. Imagine what type of world you would like to live in this Pisces cycle. Release anything that keeps you from contributing your talents to this collective purpose of saving humanity and our planet. This is an invaluable investment to make in our lives, our world, and our futures. A strong sense of compassion will embrace you this Pisces season.
Since Pisces is a water energy, it knows no boundaries. Water needs to be kept flowing since stagnant water becomes toxic very quickly. This flowing water energy wants us to work on how we deal with emotions. If we continue to have an emotional response to every situation in life, we will continue to suffer mentally. If we let emotions come and pass without acting on them, we can change our reality. Remove the boundaries, let your emotions flow, don’t contain them. All of us can learn to live in “the flow” a little better.
This New Moon happens to fall within a Mercury retrograde cycle in Pisces, causing lots of confusion, smokey mirrors, and rose-colored glasses. During this time, we’re better off thinking with our hearts. When we think with our heads, so much can go wrong. The mind, controlled by the ego, is governed by past beliefs that are often not our truths. The heart is more reliable and has a direct connection to our inner-light. The two fish of the Pisces symbol represents the human in the physical world, and the soul in the spiritual world, together as one. We are both divine and human, and this New Moon is to remind us that we are spiritual beings living a human experience. There is more to existence than the physical world and appearances. With that being said, we are being called to tap into this intuition and touch our spirit, as this is a time of increased perception. Don’t miss out on it!
Walk in the light and the heart,
HOW TO MAKE A NEW MOON LIST:
Gather paper and a pen, pencil, marker or other type of writing utensil.
Review the focus areas for this month and begin to think about how they apply to your personal and professional life.
Write a list of what your hopes, dreams, goals, priorities, wishes, and prayers are for that moment. Typically no more than 10 is recommended. Be very specific, or extremely vague.
Review last month’s list and revise them on this month’s list, if necessary.
Place your notes somewhere safe and special to you. Some tape them to a window, under a lit candle, or leave them in their notebooks on their desks. Create the space that works for you. Leave it there all month until the next New Moon.
Allow and have faith in the power of inter-connectedness in our universe to manifest your list.
KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU WANT
Join my New Moon Club to get this reminder every month.