What is an example of equity in healthcare?

Dr. Tyler Buckley

May 9, 2023

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At first glance, the terms “health equity,” “health equality,” and “health justice” may seem similar. They all focus on providing healthcare to everyone, but they each have a slightly different meaning.

For example, health equality could involve offering free checkups in the morning, but if this prevents people who work during that time from attending, it is not equitable.

Access to Care

It is important that everyone has access to quality healthcare, and this goes beyond simply getting into a doctor’s office. Some people face barriers that prevent them from seeking treatment, including high out-of-pocket costs and limited options for care in their community. This is especially true for racial minorities and lower-income groups.

Some authors have disaggregated the concept of access to focus on specific determinants such as the geographical, economic, and social aspects of accessibility. However, they argue that utilization and outcome measures must also be considered.

Access to healthcare is not just about getting in the door; it’s about ensuring that patients get the right type of care. For example, rural communities may not have enough specialized healthcare facilities to meet the needs of their residents, which can lead to higher rates of chronic illness and a lower life expectancy. Achieving equity for these residents may require providing mobile health clinics or extending health literacy programming.

Preventative Care

Health equity is about access to medical resources, but it’s also about preventing disease or illnesses in the first place. This may include regular checkups to detect health issues like high blood pressure or diabetes, vaccinations against diseases like influenza and measles, or lifestyle counseling on diet and exercise.

People with low social or economic resources are at higher risk of suffering from illness, and this can lead to disparities in health outcomes. These differences are called health disparities,” and they can have serious consequences for individuals and communities.

Achieving health equity requires a focus on eliminating barriers that prevent people from getting the care they need. These barriers can be physical, such as a lack of healthcare facilities in a rural area, or they can be more psychological, such as discrimination against racial minorities. Taking steps toward health equity benefits everyone, from society to local economies. Here are a few ways to get started:


Unlike equality, which means that all people receive the same treatment, equity prioritizes social justice in healthcare. For example, if someone is living in a rural area far from a medical facility where specialized care is available, health professionals might try to increase access by offering mobile clinics that go out into the community or providing educational materials that are translated into local languages.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health disparities are “preventable differences in health outcomes and experiences that are shaped by the characteristics of people such as where they live, how much money they have, their education and jobs, and the things in their neighborhoods that affect their chances of getting healthy.”

Rather than treating everyone in the same way or offering equal access to healthcare services, equity would address the root causes of those differences. This could be done by conducting research into the social determinants of health to see how they influence a person’s ability to make healthy lifestyle choices.


Achieving health equity is a long-term goal, as it can take years to see results. Healthcare professionals can focus on improving outcomes by addressing the adverse effects of social determinants of health (SDOH) that lead to health disparities.

People who are disadvantaged face a variety of threats to their health that can be beyond their control. These include poverty, violence, unsafe living conditions, and a lack of access to healthcare. This can have a direct impact on their life expectancy.

To achieve health equity, individuals and communities must work together to lift healthcare barriers whenever possible. This could involve raising awareness of health inequities, encouraging others to volunteer their time, or supporting initiatives to improve access to healthcare. It also involves showing respect for all groups and avoiding bias. This is essential for creating an environment where everyone can thrive. Health equity is a vital topic that will continue to be important as society evolves and changes.