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Health Care Inequalities

Program #BESZ007-BESZ008.

First program: In Sickness & in Wealth

Income and wealth inequalities have huge health impacts. What are the health advantages of being rich as compared to being poor? You’ll live longer and your quality of life will be better. With deep pockets you get lots of vacation time, live in capacious apartments or houses, you have nannies to take care of the kids, cooks and house cleaners. And you eat well. Organic arugula, shitake mushrooms, fresh-squeezed carrot juice. You have access to the best medical care money can buy. You get annual checkups. Whereas if you are indigent you wait and wait and hope the lump on your breast will disappear and the pain in your tooth will just go away. Being well off frees you from the mental stress of worrying about where your next meal is coming from and where you will sleep tonight.

Second program: Toward a Healthy Society

It's no secret. The poor get the short end of the stick in multiple ways. They live shorter lives and suffer from almost every social problem from lack of decent housing to lousy food to no healthcare to being isolated and reviled. Poverty results in toxic levels of stress. Among the countries in the world, the U.S. ranks in the "top" five in measurable stress, according to an ongoing Gallup survey. Consumerism and the so-called good life are elevated to an almost idyllic plain. But selfish me tooism lead a lot of people to an emotional dead end. It's time to move beyond vacuous slogans such as Looking Out for Number One. Cooperation and collaboration are salubrious. Why does it make good medical as well as moral sense to have a healthy society?



Stephen Bezruchka

Stephen Bezruchka is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle. His particular areas of research are population health and societal hierarchy. He spent over 10 years in Nepal working in various health programs, and teaching in remote regions. He is author of numerous articles and essays. He is a contributor to Sickness and Wealth, a book on the effects of global corporatization on health.

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