Connecticut has some of the highest and lowest ranked hospitals in the country. or the last report ranked Sharon, Stamford and Greenwich Hospital among the highest in the country. Rockville General, Charlotte Hungerford and Bridgeport Hospital are on the opposite end of the spectrum. These hospitals are ranked based on mortality rate, safety of care, readmission rate, patient experience, and timely and effective care. It’s clear that Connecticut has a huge gap in care.
Bridgeport is about thirty minutes from Greenwich, so why are there such disparities in health care between these two hospitals? If we zoom in even closer, Fairfield and Bridgeport being neighboring cities, we can see this gap in many other ways. In Fairfield, the median income is $139,000 compared to Bridgeport where it is just $46,000. Life expectancy in Bridgeport is 77 years compared to Fairfield’s 82 years. Additionally, Bridgeport has one of the the highest infant mortality rate in the state with 7.3 deaths per 1000 live births. While the socio-economic inequalities of the region are related to different health outcomes, barriers to access to take care to widen this gap.
Socio-economic inequalities such as access to sustainable housing, employment, literacy and language fluency, environmental hazards and transport all impact of access to care. Bridgeport residents face these disparities and are also more likely to be uninsured than their neighborhood. Many people reported not having coverage because it wasn’t offered through their job. in 2019, 73.7% of uninsured adults said they were uninsured because the cost of coverage was too high. Bridgeport residents are working people who often have families and yet 19% of Bridgeport residents were uninsured.in 2019, compared to Connecticut as a whole where only 8% of the state was uninsured. of Affordable Care Actenacted in 2010, it was supposed to bring affordable health insurance to more people, however, there are still gaps in health insurance and many are uninsured.
Because our country does not offer guaranteed access to public health insurance, income and employment status drive differences in access to health care like we see between Fairfield and Bridgeport. The lack of adequate health insurance affects the possibility of receiving preventive examinations, the affordability of life-saving drugs and the affordability of high quality accommodation. For those who have access to health care, keeping regular doctor appointments can prevent them from having to deal with expensive hospital visits later. A recent report from Yale School of Medicine explains how health in this country is in crisis; the system consistently fails to address health inequalities and contributes to poor health outcomes. At the root of this crisis is America’s refusal to provide universal access to quality health care. Instead, many families are left to pay for expensive medical care on their own, racking up medical debt, which can lead to a host of other problems, including more debt, high stress, hunger, homelessness, and health. physically and mentally weak.
How can this problem be solved?
Local health activists at Yale School of Medicine are joining national figures like Sen. Bernie Sanders in calling for Medicare for all. Providing affordable and quality health care is a long term investment in human capital. This proposal will expand Medicare coverage to include dental, hearing, vision, inpatient and outpatient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, and prescription drugs among many others. For morethere would be no networks, no premiums, no discounts, no copayments and no surprise bills. Annie Harper from the Yale Program on Recovery and Community Health explains that eliminating the cost of medical care, and in particular the medical debt that millions incur, would improve health outcomes for millions of people and save the US money.
Many people struggle to meet their basic health needs and we see that struggle within Bridgeport. Providing Medicare for all would help close the health gap between Fairfield and Bridgeport. It would protect Bridgeport residents from the financial consequences of paying out-of-pocket for health services and reduce the risk of being driven into poverty because a sudden illness that requires people to use their life savings. Just as we have seen increases in life expectancy at birth and healthy life expectancy in countries that have achieved uuniversal health care, we can expect the same improvements here if we pass similar legislation. This is vital to the people of Bridgeport as it would give the children a different life from the start.
Health care is a human right and America should see it as such. Connecticut can act as a pioneer of this notion and implement Medicare for All to show its benefits to the rest of America.
Jordan Italia is a junior at Sacred Heart University pursuing a degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in Global Health and a minor in Spanish.