Currently, the life expectancy of black Americans is about five years shorter than that of white Americans when factoring for gender. Poor patient compliance is often used as an explanation for why black people have worse health outcomes. The proof, however, is anecdotal and relies primarily on discourses about black people's general dysfunction. Black patients often respond in kind to problems they experience with health care access. They often conclude that the medical professionals they work with are racist. In most cases, neither of these explanations is correct. This paper argues that behavioral explanations for health care disparities shift attention away from structural issues, namely health care rationing and the limits of therapeutic medicine. The lack of an open discussion about the structural issues is part of the reason the goal initiated by the Clinton administration to end racial disparities by 2010, Healthy People 2010, largely failed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- explanatory models
- medical anthropology
- race and medicine