How Institutional Racism Shapes Inequality Within the Healthcare System & Harms Health

Institutional racism is embedded in the US healthcare system, and the general population sees it as the norm.
The unequal distribution of high-quality public goods and lower public spending in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods leads to low-quality care in local hospitals and clinics (Williams 2013). The spatial separation of racial groups and differential allocation of resources shapes individuals’ opportunities and access to salubrious resources (Williams 2013). For example, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act mandated desegregation in hospitals and other institutions receiving federal funds. The reduction of widespread racial segregation in Southern hospitals prevented the death of at least 30,000 infants in this region from 1965 to 2002. Despite this improvement, today, pre-Civil Rights Act segregated hospitals and clinics continue to endure considerable financial pressures, including a shortage of physicians and a lack of resources. In 2010, the ACA narrowed racial disparities in health insurance coverage, but Blacks and Latinos remain less likely to be insured. Some reasons for this disparity include the refusal of Southern states to expand Medicaid and exclusionary immigration policies that exclude 32% of all Latinos from health insurance because of their immigration status.