Understanding the Impacts of Health Insurance Status on the Distribution of Health Care, in the United States Healthcare System

Irons, Catherine, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Earle, Joshua, EN, University of Virginia

High-quality healthcare access is an important part of a society's ability to improve the overall human experience. However, in the United States, roughly 45,000 people die each year due to their lack of healthcare insurance (Wilper et al., 2009). While the topic of the United States healthcare system is one that has been examined for decades, these issues remain as prevalent as ever. In an ideal world, an individual’s insurance status, which can be a reflection of many contributing factors including socioeconomic status, gender, or race, would not affect the treatment they receive nor how health care providers treat these patients who are seeking care. However, this is not always the case, as US healthcare providers may alter clinical decisions based on the insurance status they perceive their patient’s possessing. My STS Research Thesis aims to analyze the US healthcare system, understanding how a patient’s health insurance status affects the quality of healthcare they receive. I will apply the STS framework Actor-Network Theory (ANT), in order to see how specific actors can work within the healthcare network, and how the technology that is healthcare insurance plays a role. Analyzing this system, I will make note of any systemic biases that affect the way healthcare is distributed, on the basis of socioeconomic status, gender, race, or background. The goal of this thesis is to understand the current landscape of the United States healthcare system as it relates to insurance status and patient outcomes, and identify any potential trends that show what direction it is going in. Seeing the US healthcare system and the actors involved as a sociotechnical system will allow for this analysis.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
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