Racial Disparities in Healthcare Before and After the Affordable Care Act 

Table of Content


Obama’s Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010, was a main focus of his election and the biggest shock to healthcare in years. As the foundation of the election for our first African American president, it is no surprise that the ACA had mixed responses from the public. That being said, there is no denying the statistics showing the wildly positive impact on minority groups, millions of whom were without coverage beforehand. Though the ACA has much room to grow and become more polished, it was a brave, history altering policy that has moved the US closer to racial equality in healthcare. It is important to understand that the full impact of the ACA will not be known until many years from now. There is no way of knowing how it may evolve or disappear, in which case it could still have success in inspiring future policy changes. It is also yet to be known whether universal healthcare is the right direction for the United States. In a diverse country with conflicting ideas and opinions it will always be hard to please everyone. Though we are far from achieving a healthcare policy that benefits all, we should applaud President Obama’s attempt for its successes in helping minorities gain vital health coverage. Its targeted approach to aiding those with historical barriers to coverage is precisely why it was more effective in helping them than previous policy has been.

Road Map

In this review of literature, I will begin by citing sources detailing the history of healthcare in the United states. These pieces will provide foundational information to help understand and analyze the Affordable Care Act. My next section will cover literature on the Affordable Care Act, its implementation, and its aim to help uninsured minorities. It will have a focus on the direct impacts to communities of color and other marginalized groups. Finally, literature on the present day status of the ACA will help gauge its success in following through on its original goals.

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Thesis: The Affordable Care Act has reduced racial disparities in healthcare unlike previous policy because of its targeted approach to helping minority groups.


These pieces show a couple of things. First, telling the history of healthcare will allow me to show how racial disparities in healthcare came about in the first place. With this I will be able to show exactly where the ACA changed things and make some sense of it. Second, this will give insight as I try to make suggestions for the future, looking carefully at what was not covered by the ACA. I plan to start at the beginning of healthcare in the US and take a short trip through different periods in time, showing how racial equality has progressed alongside healthcare.

Bhopal provides a detailed history of healthcare and how it has affected different racial groups. Inequalities in healthcare coverage have led to certain groups having significantly lower life expectancy than others especially for Blacks and Hispanics, and also talks about the effect of income in healthcare coverage, again highlighting those minorities without access for financial reasons. Bhopal’s definitions are important to include in this review, as they clarify the language used in other articles. Race is defined as “The group a person belongs to as a result of a mix of physical features, ancestry, and geographical origins, as identified by others or, increasingly, as self-identified.” Throughout time social factors have muddied the definition of race, making it more important to have a clear definition for the commonly used term. Bhopal defines ethnicity as “The group a person belongs to as a result of a mix of cultural factors, including language, diet, religion, ancestry, and race”. The last critically important definition is that of racism: “A belief that some races are superior to others, used to devise and justify actions that create inequality between racial groups”

The piece by Rucker and Williams talks about the systemic factors that have led to racial disparities in healthcare. It brings in the topic of stereotypes to help further explain how different groups have had serious disadvantages and barriers to coverage. They also identifies some strategies to make healthcare coverage more effective. There are many more examples of inequality in existing literature. Wenneker and Epstein showed that black patients had lower rates for coronary angiography and coronary artery bypass grafting than white patients after adjustment for confounding factors. Hannan showed that black patients had fewer cardiac procedures than white ones after adjustment for disease severity. Goldberg et al reported that coronary artery bypass rates in black men and women were a quarter and a third respectively of rates in white men and women. Whittle et al showed inequalities between black and white patients in invasive cardiac procedures. Ayanian et al reported that black patients had fewer coronary revascularisation procedures than white patients. Carlisle et al showed that in Los Angeles invasive cardiac procedures were less common in Latin American and black patients than in white patients, but not in Asian patients compared with white patients. Peterson et al showed that black patients had fewer cardiac procedures yet better short term survival and equivalent intermediate survival rates.

Countless examples expose a glaring difference in healthcare coverage of different racial groups throughout history. Identifying the issue is only half the battle though, because past literature does a good job of this yet offers little in the form of solutions. I speculate that the answer is that nobody really knows what will work best. It is hard to compare the US to any other country in this dimension. The sheer size and diversity of the US make policy formation that much harder than it would otherwise be in more homogenous nations. Next, I will review literature analyzing the ongoing successes and failures of the ACA since implementation.

Affordable Care Act

This section shows different dimensions of the ACA. First, the details of the ACA and how it was targeted at certain minorities. I will try to explain how this policy has been similar to and different from other healthcare policies in the past. Next, these pieces help show the impact of the ACA in reducing the race gap, providing healthcare for millions of minorities without prior access. I also plan on talking about which groups were negatively affected by the new policies and why they will be the key to the future. Lastly, I will discuss the progress of the ACA against the promises that were made beforehand and the dimensions that must change in the future to make it more successful. The pieces about the success and progress of the ACA will directly supplement my thesis regarding the coverage of minority groups. They provide good statistics as well as opinions regarding the success of the ACA.

The topic of this article by Blumenthal is the progress of healthcare under the affordable care act, especially for racial minorities. They come to find that over 20 million Americans have gained coverage, reducing racial disparities in healthcare that have long existed. It gives good numbers of how many people, and which groups are covered differently than they were prior. It also addresses some of the obstacles and failures of the ACA and looks toward the future.

Cite this page

Racial Disparities in Healthcare Before and After the Affordable Care Act . (2022, Jan 13). Retrieved from


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