The topic of health equity is particularly apt to the concept of “alchemy,” as described by the billionaire philanthropist and economist George Soros. Alchemy is, according to Soros, rooted in his concept of “reflexivity,” through which social realities are made, approximately through a process like propaganda that makes them hegemonic. In short, a public movement that agitates for a new social consciousness emerges through “alchemy” and makes a new social reality out of the narrative at its heart. Alchemy takes place when something is true enough to gain significant traction but not completely true. This is the “fertile fallacy,” according to Soros, that makes reflexivity, thus alchemy, work.
Health equity is an extremely good example of a concept fitting the alchemical bill. This is because there’s something valid about health equity, especially around financial and economic concerns relevant to having fair access to healthcare. Health equity doesn’t stop there, however. Being a form of social equity theory applied to the concept of health, it judges success only by achieving equitable health outcomes across identity groups.
Thus, in practice, health equity uses health, genuine disparities in health outcomes, and legitimate questions about failures in accessibility to healthcare as a lever to apply radical identity politics. These equitable health outcomes must be achieved by intentionally changing the relevant systems—social, cultural, epistemological, institutional, and economic—unequally. This bias against equality and in favor of equity is because equality cannot achieve equity.
Understanding the complexities, nuances, and dangers around the idea of health equity is therefore of paramount importance as we come through the COVID-19 era and into what follows. Join Lindsay and O’Fallon as they sit down to try to shed light on the ins and outs of this issue so that you can be as informed as possible as the public conversation on the issue develops.