HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Friday, May 21, 2021

Disparities in Health Care: The Pandemic’s Lessons for Health Lawyers

Danielle Pelfrey Duryea (Boston University), Nicole Huberfeld (Boston University), Ruqaiijah Yearby (Saint Louis University), Disparities in Health Care: The Pandemic’s Lessons for Health Lawyers, Am. Health L. Assoc. Health L. Watch (2021):

Population-level disparities in health and health care came to the forefront of U.S. public consciousness in 2020. As the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic stratification of COVID-19 infection and death rates emerged with chilling clarity, the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer focused millions of Americans on the complex, structural nature of inequity and its long-lasting effects.  Access to quality health care is a “social determinant of health,” meaning that it is one of the “non-medical factors that influence health outcomes . . . the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” Although it may seem obvious that differential access to high-quality care results in differential health outcomes, less obvious are the ways that multiple factors—including facially neutral laws and organizational practices—interact over time to produce population-level disparities in care and outcomes.

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