Health Equity

UPDATE: Survey invitation - UCC Justice and Witness Ministries and the Council on Racial and Ethnic Ministries invite pastors, faith nurses, Christian educators, and lay leaders to complete a survey so that we can gauge interest and knowledge needed for working on issues of health equity and health disparities. Your feedback is most appreciated. Please fill out the survey today.


Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many Americans now have health care insurance that will assist them in gaining access to health services - a great first step. Unfortunately, many of those who have insurance face access challenges in finding, locating, and getting to a health provider to acquire appropriate care from the health care system in a timely manner.

Why are people struggling to attain quality care?  A variety of factors act as barriers when people are trying to access health care, including:

  • Poverty
  • Discrimination
  • Education
  • Social skills
  • Language barriers

The ACA may offer a path for improving the health status of immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, and other vulnerable populations, but until our policies address issues of health equity, we will not achieve our goal of making health care available to all people.

What can you do?

Your congregation is invited to help reframe the dialogue around health to include how we move toward health equity for all. For more information on this issue and to begin a dialogue at your church, please visit Unnatural Causes . . . is inequality making us sick? 

Download action Toolkit and Discussion Guide to begin work on this important health issue.

What is Health Equity?

Health equity concerns those differences in population or community health that can be traced to unequal economic and social conditions and are systemic and avoidable – and thus inherently unjust and unfair.

Health equity is achieved when all people have the opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one is kept from achieving this because of their social position or other socially determined circumstance.

Why is this an issue for members of the United Church of Christ?

For more than thirty-five years the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has advocated for health care as a right and a priority for all people. Now thanks in part to the hard work of the faith community we have seen the passage of historic legislation – The Patient and Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) which promises to move thousands from the rolls of the uninsured to those with the ability to now purchase lifesaving coverage for themselves and their families.  However, our work is not yet finished. 

How does health equity and social justice fit into the mission of the UCC?  

Social Justice is at the heart of the UCC. It is in our DNA to work to better all in this nation socially, economically and politically.  

What do you think causes the unequal distribution of conditions that can promote and harm health?

Health inequities are the consequence of public policies, and as such can be changed.  Tackling health inequities requires widening our understanding of healthcare to include the ways in which lifestyle factors influence individual and community health. 

These factors (known as the Social Determinants of Health) are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources and include: 

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Income
  • Class
  • Neighborhood
  • Housing
  • Experience of discrimination
  • Disability
  • Employment and working conditions
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Age
  • Environment
  • Sexual orientation & gender identity
  • Sense of social inclusion
  • Political empowerment.
General Synod 29 adopted a two-fold policy statement which asked UCC members to:   
  1. Support of the passage of legislation to provide health care for all
  2. Address the implications of health disparities and inequities through study and discussion.

Call to Action

Your congregation is invited to help reframe the dialogue around health to include how we move toward health equity for all. 

For more information on this issue and to begin a dialogue at your church, please visit Unnatural Causes . . . is inequality making us sick? 

Download action Toolkit and Discussion Guide to begin work on this important health issue.

Understanding the Connections

Climate Change, Environmental Health and Health Equity
The quality of the environment directly affects a person’s health status and plays a major role in quality of life and years of healthy life lived. Safe air, land, and water are fundamental to a healthy community environment. 

Health Equity and the Supreme Court Decision on Contraception
The Supreme Court decision giving some corporations the right to deny coverage of certain types of contraception to their employees based on religious freedom will have a great impact on women of color.  Although, the ruling does not single out women of color, our political and economic realities tell us that women of color often bear the brunt of the negative impacts of restrictions on women’s health.

Is Poverty the Greatest Predictor of Health Status?
Presentation by Minister for Health Care Justice, Barbara Baylor.

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CONTACT INFO

Ms. Barbara T. Baylor
Policy Advocate for Health and Wholeness Issues
100 Maryland Avenue, NE
Suite 300
Washington,District of Columbia 20002
202-543-1517
baylorb@ucc.org