Vulnerability and Exposure in Health
Vulnerability refers to an individual's inability to cope with, predict, resist, and recover from disasters thrown in their path. Exposure in health refers to one's capacity to fight infections and recover from illnesses to a certain degree. In general, some people are more susceptible to infections than others due to a lack of immunity (Birkmann, Joern, et al., 195).
Vulnerability to Infections
Despite the United States government's attempts to eradicate disease, some people are more vulnerable to disease than others. Since health care is costly, people who live in poverty are more susceptible to infections. The economically disadvantaged, as well as people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and low-income children, are among the most vulnerable groups in the United States (Goodridge, Donna, et al., 1402). We may also add racial and ethnic minorities as well as rural people in this category (Goodridge, Donna, et al., 1402).
Barriers to Accessing Quality Healthcare
The barriers to accessing quality healthcare for these groups vary. For instance, in the case of the economically disadvantaged, the cost of health care is too much for them to afford. According to data obtained from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), more than half of the US population is unable to afford the premiums levied for health insurance (Szydlowski, Maciej, 240). Also, the average annual amount spent on healthcare per person was $10,000 in 2016 (Szydlowski, Maciej, 247). This is way above the reach of the economically disadvantaged, and consequently, their inability to access quality healthcare increases their vulnerability. HIV patients are also more vulnerable due to the reduced immunity of their bodies. Adding the fact that HIV in the US is more prevalent in the poor and the minorities increases the vulnerability of these populations. Few of these patients access antiretroviral drugs. This is mainly attributed to fear of stigmatization and, in some cases, ignorance. Children from low-income families are more vulnerable due to the inability of their families to afford quality healthcare. Bearing in mind that also immunity in low children is less developed also explains why these children are more vulnerable to diseases.
Most Vulnerable Group: Economically Disadvantaged
Of the groups mentioned above, the economically disadvantaged are the ones that are most vulnerable to diseases. 14.5% of Americans live below the poverty line (Birkmann, Joern, et al., 199). This is about 45 million individuals compared to 1.2 million individuals who are infected with HIV/AIDS (Goodridge, Donna, et al., 1406). Also, bearing in mind individuals who are economically disadvantaged are more likely to contract HIV than individuals who are affluent. These statistics, together with associated high costs of health care, make these individuals more vulnerable to diseases. The majority of them are unable to provide health insurance for themselves.
Measures to Combat Barriers to Healthcare
Some of the measures aimed at combating access to healthcare include subsidized healthcare costs, education programs, and free healthcare programs. The three have gone a long way in ensuring healthcare is now affordable to the majority of the citizens (Goodridge, Donna, et al., 1409). Education programs to the less privileged have helped in making these groups aware of their health concerns. In as much as the government has tried to help these individuals, barriers still exist. In my opinion, it would be prudent of the government to step in and make healthcare free for all those living below the poverty line (Szydlowski, Maciej, 249). Also, particular emphasis should be placed on children's healthcare.
In conclusion, we have seen that, despite government measures to avail quality healthcare to the economically disadvantaged, it is still inaccessible to most. Thus, more money should be allocated to removing the barriers to quality healthcare for these populations (Birkmann, Joern, et al., 210).
Birkmann, Joern, et al. “Framing vulnerability, risk and societal responses: the MOVE framework.” Natural hazards 67.2 (2013): 193-211.
Goodridge, Donna, et al. “Access to health and support services: perspectives of people living with a long-term traumatic spinal cord injury in rural and urban areas.” Disability and rehabilitation 37.16 (2015): 1401-1410.
Szydlowski, Maciej. “The Rights to Health and Health Care of Vulnerable Populations: Reducing the Existing Barriers to Health Equity Experienced by Transgender People in Ireland.” Journal of Human Rights Practice 8.2 (2016): 239-263.