Health care: the beginning and end of the cycle of poverty
African Americans make up a third of Chicago’s population. But they’re nearly half the city’s disabled population.
What accounts for that disparity?
It’s not race. It’s poverty.
According to statistics from a recent edition of the Chicago Reporter, when you control for poverty, the racial imbalance among the disabled disappears.
Why does that imbalance exist? Health care.
Low-income pregnant women have less access to prenatal care and, quite often, poorer quality of care. Poor nutrition and continuing health care inequalities during childhood contribute to future disabilities.
Being poor and having little or no access to health care starts off a disability. And then that disability leads to a life of poverty. Less able to get through school, living in poor communities where special education options are often limited. Disabilities keep many from working full-time or working at all. Government benefits keep some disabled people off the street, but just barely.
Poor people are born sick. As a result, they become poorer. And sicker. The cycle continues.
We can’t put health care in a box. It might be one bill, one part of the party platform, but it’s intimately connected with how people live and what chance they have at escaping the cycle they were born into.