History of Racial Inequity in Healthcare


The first course of the Addressing Racial Health Inequity in Healthcare specialization will first situate the role of public health in healthcare, and walk through important concepts and definitions that you will see throughout the course and subsequent courses. You will walk through the social and biological perspectives on the concepts of race and racism, and unpack the history of unequal treatment in the U.S. You will learn about the health insurance system in the U.S., differential access to care, and professional challenges to diversity in healthcare. And finally, you will explore examples of resilience in healthcare that were critical to preserving the health of marginalized populations.

What you will learn

Unpacking Concepts and Definitions

This week, we will structure and root our understanding of what race is and how it interacts and affects all aspects of our society. To observe and understand inequities in the healthcare system, we must first have a basic understanding of concepts and definitions in the health equity literature, and the origins of race and how it came to be a ubiquitous part of modern society.

Historical Roots of Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare

The purpose of this week’s lessons are to understand specific events that contributed to the disproportionate disease burden seen in certain communities, and illustrate why health disparities, and in turn, healthcare disparities, exist by race.

Evolution & Impact of the Health Insurance System

This week, we will learn about the history of health insurance in the United States. The US health insurance system is complex and can vary based on your location, age, ability status, and for some groups, your identity. Understanding these differences helps shed a light on how health insurance plays a role in health inequity and specifically, racial health inequity.

Access & Professional Representation in Healthcare

This week, we will explore how lack of access and representation in various sectors have had an impact on healthcare equity. By illustrating exclusion and discrimination in other sectors of society, we can better see the same parallels that are observed in healthcare, and how exclusionary practices outside of healthcare contribute to health disparities and causes of inequities that will be detailed in Course 2.

What’s included