May 18, 2018
12:00pm to 1:30pm
Haines 215

The Health Working Group is pleased to present: 

Danielle Raudenbush

Assistant Professor

UCSD, Sociology 

This Friday May 18th at 12:00 - 1:30pm

Haines 215

Health Care Off the Books: Poverty, Illness and Strategies for Survival in an American City


On average, in the U.S., people who are low-income, live in low-income communities, and belong to racial/ethnic minority groups have less access to health services than others. At the same time, members of these very groups are, on average, some of the sickest in U.S. society; they experience higher rates of a range of health problems, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and many types of cancers. These trends point to an important tension between access to care and medical need; a tension that gives rise to a critical question: If people face difficulty accessing care, how do they treat their health problems when they become sick? Commonly, health research suggests that low-income people rely on safety-net facilities like emergency departments and community health centers to get care, or turn to cultural practices like folk remedies and prayer. In this project, I show something different. Drawing on three and a half years of field work in an African American public housing development, as well as qualitative interviews with doctors who work with low-income urban populations, I find that people get care through what I call a hybrid health care system. This hybrid system consists of formal facilities like emergency departments and community health centers, but also extends into an informal social realm. In this social realm, people who face barriers to care obtain resources like pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment through their social ties to “intermediaries”, in ways that tend to violate established regulations of the formal system. Intermediaries include friends and family, people who sell goods in the underground economy, and staff at hospitals and clinics. Through these behaviors, people who face barriers to care and the intermediaries that assist them fundamentally transform the health care system and how it operates. I argue that understanding these behaviors is integral to understanding the health of low-income urban groups.

We hope to see you there! We are also doing a group lunch at 1:30pm after the talk. 


Amy and Eleni