What is Health Equity?

What is Health Equity – Overview

Health equity requires everyone to have a chance to be as healthy as possible. However, several factors outside our control, such as lack of resources and discrimination, can prevent people from achieving the best state of health.

Health equity is an effective way to challenge and correct these non-controllable factors and ensure everyone gets the chance to be the healthiest they can be.

Some of the most common challenges in achieving complete health equity are:

  • Lack of access to quality education
  • Ethnic and racial discrimination
  • Insufficient housing/lack of housing
  • Income and wealth disparity
  • Unsafe environments

By decreasing and overcoming the challenges of these obstacles, people can effectively achieve optimal health equity. Achieving health equity is not solely an individual effort but requires collective action and systemic changes from communities, healthcare providers, and governments.

Health Equity and Health Disparities

Health disparity is a difference that affects how a person can achieve their best health state. Some of the most common examples of health disparities include race, religion, education, gender, disability, income, geographic location, and sexual orientation.

In essence, health disparities create health inequality.

Due to different situations, some people cannot access the same level of healthcare services as others. A health disparity is usually beyond the individual’s control.

There are two major ways that are suggested to overcome health disparities – health equality and health equity.

Health Equality vs Health Equity

Health equality refers to giving everyone the same opportunities to receive healthcare services. Some common examples include community health centers offering free/low-cost check-ups.

On the other hand, health equity refers to the situation where people are provided opportunities according to their needs. For instance, a healthcare center usually determines service charges depending on the individual’s income range.

This example simplifies health equity efforts. A more accurate description would be that health equity aims to adjust resource allocation based on individual needs, ensuring everyone has access to necessary healthcare services, which might include sliding scale payments based on income.

Health equality involves equal treatment for all, while health equity focuses on providing care tailored to individual needs to achieve the highest possible standard of health for everyone.

Health equality alone may not address the nuanced needs of all individuals, which is why health equity is also important. For instance, if a clinic offers free check-ups only in the morning, a person who works during that time will be unable to receive affordable care. Though the clinic offers the same service to every individual, not everyone can take advantage of it.

Health equity requires offering alternative check-up times, such as in the afternoon or evening, so that every individual can access the service at the time that suits them.

Common Examples of Health Equity

Some of the most common types of services that run on a health equity basis are:

  • Health seminars and courses are designed specifically to cater to the needs of certain racial groups or ethnic communities.
  • Low-cost health care services to individuals from low-income households
  • Mobile health check-ups to help individuals who do not have access to transportation
  • Evening or late-night health appointments for individuals working long hours
  • Access to better education, testing and treatment for communities specifically affected by certain diseases and health conditions

The government and community health organizations need to acknowledge and attempt to remove barriers to care to promote health equity.

Achieving Health Equity: Strategies and Approaches

What is Health Equity

What is Health Equity – How to Receive Health Equity

Special groups who don’t have health equity are usually disenfranchised and discriminated against through no fault of their own. Common examples of this include:

  • People from low-income households
  • Members of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Ethnic and racial minorities

Members of the above communities are likely to experience obstacles in receiving optimal health care services, such as low income, violence and poor living conditions.

Achieving health equity is a collective endeavor that requires concerted efforts across personal, political, and community levels, focusing on systemic changes and advocacy. Individuals can only possibly correct some challenging factors that impact their health equity. These individuals can benefit from professionals and programs that assist them in achieving optimal health equity.

How to Promote Health Equity?

Organizations and individuals can take certain steps to help the under-served achieve health equity, such as:

  • Identifying the ways health disparities in a community impact certain groups
  • Recognizing every person has their own racial and ethnic biases and learning how to recognize when an environment or policy may unintentionally exclude a person or group.
  • Respecting people of all groups and making efforts to involve all groups in making changes is essential. This requires consulting with the group you intend to serve to determine whether the planned program to address health disparity will be effective.
  • Frequently evaluate the effectiveness of policies on health equity and make necessary changes to ensure the policies are most effective.
  • Encouraging people to contribute with their talents, time and gifts, such as tutoring students to help them get high school diplomas or a healthcare professional volunteering their time to help at a community clinic

In short, promoting health equity requires working with others to lift healthcare obstacles whenever possible.


Several local, state, and national organizations are committed to promoting health equity, such as the American Public Health Association, Office of Health Equity, and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Many states also have a health equity department that provides education and training on health equity opportunities.

See Also

Cultural Competence in Healthcare

What is PHI in Healthcare?

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

What is Healthcare FSA?

IDA Grant Program

EIDL Grant

DHHS Grants

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