Systemic Racism in the Medical Industry

Discrimination in the medical industry has been a prominent issue for a long time now. Since the start of the pandemic, light has been cast upon racial inequities, as we have seen with the rise in murders of African Americans at the hands of police officers; however, now more than ever, we have seen how racial inequity affects Covid-19 treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), minority groups are most affected by Covid-19, due to the social determining factors of health, such as healthcare access and poverty. According to a study done by the National Urban League, African American and Latinx people are four times more likely than white people to be hospitalized for COVID-19. These minority groups are more at risk, yet they have less access to healthcare. Social, economic, and household conditions also come into play. Minorities are most likely to experience overcrowding, deprivation, and illnesses from underlying health issues. Black people in particular are more likely to die of Covid-19. According to an article by Stat News, “Black Americans have been dying at about 2.4 times the rate of white Americans.” This is an example of systemic racism, which should be deemed a public health crisis on its own. In addition, minority groups are more likely to have the front-line jobs like construction workers, truck drivers, and janitors. These high risk and essential jobs means these workers are most vulnerable to sickness. 

African Americans are the only ones suffering. Immigrants are also living in fear. Many cannot even get treatment for Covid-19 due to the ever increasing fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity in their communities, and that healthcare staff will share their current legal status with ICE. Millions of undocumented immigrants do not have healthcare insurance or social security, and one of the main reasons for this is low wage occupations. Many immigrants are underpaid, and without sick leave, they cannot receive the quality medical care that they deserve. Furthermore, policies such as the “public charge” rule penalize immigrants for needing benefits and make it harder for them to alter their legal status. This makes it difficult for them to obtain a green card and, in turn, healthcare. 

Racism in the medical field is a serious issue and a change needs to be made. How many more deaths will it take to realize we urgently need to make that change?