What is Health Equity?
There are various definitions for what health equity means put out by the World Health Organization, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, the Center for Disease Control, the Virginia Department of Health, and others.
Health Equity Definition in simple terms –
The opportunity for everyone to be healthy no matter who they are or where they come from.
How Will Health Equity Be Achieved?
In order to move closer towards health equity, unjust disparities that limit access to healthy food, lifestyle, and health care must be dealt with. General health opportunities are drastically different for populations depending on social status, ethnicity, and income level. This is due to a number of factors which include issues with economic resources, food distribution systems, discrimmination, toxic environments, geography and/or lack of accessible health services. Understanding that a healthy population is in the best interest of the entire society, it is important to put resources into understanding and addressing the issues that are leading to health inequities.
Health and Wealth
There tends to be a correlation between health and wealth. Wealthier communities tend to have more access to health resources. In the United States, there seems to be more financial incentive to provide health services than to prevent the need for them. A health crisis can be financially disastrous for those who do not have the resources to pay for them. The availability of affordable, healthy food and lifestyle also tend to vary dramatically on the wealth of the community. Addressing these issues has been difficult to navigate because of the economic, political disruptions. Nevertheless, new ideas are needed and are being experimented with.
Health Equity HSA
Health Equity HSA is a health savings plan that provides an opportunity for individuals and families to save money in a tax free account that can be used to pay for health service. There are varying plans that can are offered in collaboration with health insurance companies to help lower premiums. The account is owned and controlled by the individual or family even when they change insurance plans or carriers. In most cases, the money in the account can be invested to earn additional tax free interest.
Health and the Environment
The environment influences the health of the community and the community influences the health of the environment. Many communities suffer health consequences due to air pollution and point source pollution. Often the pollution is caused by factors outside the community like industry and agriculture. Climate change also impacts the health of the community. Severe weather, flooding, and disease are largely related to environmental circumstances. Solid waste pollution can be a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. Although some of these factors seem beyond the community’s control, there are ways that the community can influence the environment where they live by behaviour changes and activism. Efforts must be made to prepare communities to be more healthy and resilient.
Everyone should be able to have the opportunity to be as healthy as they possibly can. There is a personal responsibility to make sure you are getting the proper nutrition, exercise, and access to health services. There is a societal responsibility to make sure those basic health needs are available to everyone regardless of income or geography and to help overcome the barriers that prevent people access to them.
Here are some ways to take control of your own health-
Food choices also have an enormous impact on health and the environment. Know what food has the nutrition you need and where to get it. Learn to access healthy affordable food and the creative ways to address food security. Also learn where your food comes from and how your food choices affect your health and the environment.
Technological advances and online tools can help you monitor your health and connect doctors with their patients remotely.