Healthcare services in the United States have always been a hot topic of debate but as of recently is has been THE debate. In Georgia specifically, one of several states that chose not to expand coverage, the healthcare debate is ongoing. People who fall within the coverage gap, either making too little or too much for coverage and/or subsidies, are forced to find other avenues of treatment or go without treatment for periods of time. My interest in immigrant populations brought me to the idea that healthcare could be interpreted in different ways among foreign-born populations that live here in the U.S. This brings me to the topic in which I am using to begin my thesis at Georgia State University, School of Public Health. I am specifically looking at African-born populations that lived in Africa and then moved to the U.S. later and how their foreign upbringing may lead to certain cultural differences and issues when it comes to healthcare. Some issues such as language barriers, socioeconomic status (SES) plays a key role, and also health comprehension in terms of how they perceive their own health and what a healthy person is.
Being born in one country and living there before coming to another means that that person brings with them an understanding of what healthcare is, what it means to be healthy, and what services that person may be used to or not used to. Self-health is an important issue in terms of when a person thinks it’s time to seek healthcare services and how important they perceive their own health needs to be. Language is another important point; languages do not always directly translate and can have different connotations when translated. Many cultures have their own cultural beliefs when it comes to illness and injury as well as home remedies to cure them. Immigrants who travel, according to research, are believed to be healthy since they can travel and thus are healthy enough to work and make a living. Also, research suggests that immigrants who travel to the U.S. often excel in education and go on to attain postgraduate degrees, which leads to a better socioeconomic status then their U.S. born counterparts. Lastly, another issue that may differ in immigrants is healthcare comprehension, meaning how well a person understands what they need, what is available to them, how to obtain healthcare coverage, how to use the services available to them and so on.
Growing up in another cultural value system can affect all of these things; my thesis aims to focus on this. I will be comparing African-born populations to their U.S.-born counterparts in terms of how they may differ in use and comprehension of healthcare services here in Georgia. I will be proposing a sort of policy prescription based on my findings and I hope to devise something that I believe is a solution or starting point to help level the healthcare field for African-born populations.