Socioeconomic Status and Health
Of all the socioeconomic variables, it is poverty which is the underlying cause for the others. The high cost of education and technology put them beyond the reach of the poor. Consequently, the poor are ignorant about the health benefits of nutritious diets and physical activity and lack information about available medical treatments. Their place of residence tends to be crowded, polluted and lacking in hygiene and clean water. Their low income occupations are usually more likely to cause exposure to toxins and pollutants. They have less access to quality health care and supportive social networks.
Universal health care ensures that all citizens of a country pay for, and are assured access to, health care. Health care can be provided directly by the Government, as in the United Kingdom, or through the provision of health insurance. The United States spends more than twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, but, unlike them, does not have National Health Insurance. While federal laws mandate free access to emergency services for all and the elderly, war veterans and the poor have Medicare, about 16% of the population lacks health insurance. The uninsured receive less preventive and therapeutic care, are subjected to delayed diagnosis and have high mortality rates. They are compelled to pay medical costs ‘up front’ or are denied services and are pushed into debt and bankruptcy.