Advancing urban health equity in the United States in an age of health care gentrification: a framework and research agenda

Helen V.S. Cole*, Emily Franzosa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Access to health care has traditionally been conceptualized as a function of patient socio-demographic characteristics (i.e., age, race/ethnicity, education, health insurance status, etc.) and/or the system itself (i.e., payment structures, facility locations, etc.). However, these frameworks typically do not take into account the broader, dynamic context in which individuals live and in which health care systems function. Purpose: The growth in market-driven health care in the U.S. alongside policies aimed at improving health care delivery and quality have spurred health system mergers and consolidations, a shift toward outpatient care, an increase in for-profit care, and the closure of less profitable facilities. These shifts in the type, location and delivery of health care services may provide increased access for some urban residents while excluding others, a phenomenon we term “health care gentrification.“ In this commentary, we frame access to health care in the United States in the context of neighborhood gentrification and a concurrent process of changes to the health care system itself. Conclusions: We describe the concept of health care gentrification, and the complex ways in which both neighborhood gentrification and health care gentrification may lead to inequitable access to health care. We then present a framework for understanding health care gentrification as a function of dynamic and multi-level systems, and propose ways to build on existing models of health care access and social determinants of health to more effectively measure and address this phenomenon. Finally, we describe potential strategies applied researchers might investigate that could prevent or remediate the effects of health care gentrification in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Pages (from-to)66
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2022

Keywords

  • Gentrification
  • Health care access
  • Health equity
  • Urban health
  • Policy
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Health Facilities
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Educational Status
  • Health Equity

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