Vulnerable populations are groups of people not well integrated into the health care system because of ethnic, cultural, economic, geographic, or health characteristics. As a result those individuals are in danger of not acquiring medical care there by creating a potential threat to their health. Examples of vulnerable populations include racial and ethnic minorities, elderly, underinsured or uninsured, psychiatric population, immigrants, children, and people with disabilities or multiple chronic conditions (Urban Institute, 2010).
To demonstrate an understanding of the impact vulnerable populations have on the United States health care system, it is important to ...view middle of the document...
In the 2010 census, 54% of U.S. children were White, non-Hispanic; 23% were Hispanic; 14% were Black; 4% were Asian; and 5% were "All other races" (The United States Census, 2010). According to childstats.gov (2010) children of Hispanic origin have increased faster than any other racial or ethnic group, growing from 9% in 1980 to 23% in 2010. In 2023, fewer than half of all children are projected to be White, non-Hispanic. By 2050, 39% of U.S. children are projected to be Hispanic (up from 23% in 2010), and 38% are projected to be White, non-Hispanic (down from 54% in 2010) (Childstats.gov, 2011).
Income level. Economic circumstances greatly affect the well-being of children and their families, e.g., income and poverty status of children's families and secure employment of children's parents (Urban Institute, 2010). In 2009, 21% of children ages 0-17 lived in poverty (15.5 million) Among all children, the poverty rate was three times higher for Black children and approximately three times higher for Hispanic children compared to the rate for White, non-Hispanic children. In 2009, 36% of Black children, 33% of Hispanic children, and 12% of White, non-Hispanic children lived in poverty (The United States Census, 2010). Finally the poverty rate for related children living in female-householder families was 44% in 2009, and 24% of related children ages 0–5 lived in poverty, compared to 18% of older related children.
Education level. Mathematics and reading test scores are excellent indicators of how a child will progress into their adult lives. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) measures national trends in the academic performance of students in grades 4, 8, and 12. According to the NAEP (2011) mathematics scores for the average 4th-grade had a score of 240 in 2009 (on a scale of 0-500). The average 8th-grade mathematics score in 2009 (283) was higher than the scores in all previous assessment years and 2 points higher than the score in 2007 (281). Between 2005 and 2009, the average 12th-grade mathematics score increased by 3 points, from 150 to 153 (on a scale of 0–300). For all racial and ethnic groups, average 12th-grade mathematics scores were higher in 2009 than in 2005. Scores for White Non-Hispanic 161, Black, Non-Hispanic 131, American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic 144, Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic 175 and Hispanic 138 (Childstats.gov, 2011).
Children are considered a vulnerable population because children rely on adults to care and nurture them. The childhood years (ages 1 to 4) are especially crucial, as they are the time of a child’s greatest growth and development and can have a tremendous impact on future health outcomes. The school-age years (5 to 9) are also significant because they are provided with a unique opportunity to reach almost all children within the institution of school. However, statistically, childhood is the healthiest period of life, yet children...