Underserved Communities, Hospice, and Healthcare Inequity

A black woman helps an elderly blac wan out of a wicker chair. The woman wears a yellow sweater and the man wears a blue sweater.

The Black Wall Street Times reports that a hospice organization in Tennessee is filling the gap in inequitable end-of-life care by catering specifically to the Black families in their community. The article reports that in Tennessee, just 19% of hospice patients are Black, despite Black families making up 27% of the population in the state. “Black families do not lean on hospice as frequently as their White counterparts. Just 41% of all Black Medicare beneficiaries enroll in hospice for end-of-life care, compared to over 50% of White Medicare beneficiaries.”

Hospice provides care for those who have a best-guess prognosis of six months or less to live, although many patients in hospice care live for longer than the six-month estimate. Some professionals note that the Black community in Tennessee experiences mistrust of the medical establishment. When access to care is limited due to bias, insurance denial, the inability to pay out of pocket, or distrust of medical professionals, the inaccessibility to care reduces options for patients. The reduction of real care options is healthcare inequity.

When options are reduced, patients who become eligible for assisted suicide in states where the practice is legal are at risk of deadly harm. A two-tiered system of medicine is the result of inequitable care to underserved communities and it results in some people getting suicide prevention help while others get suicide assistance, resulting in death for the devalued group.


Read more: Choosing death over Interdependence

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