Quality and Access to Healthcare in Omaha


Sociology is the systematic study of society; social interaction and the sociological perspective which are aspects that can be used to view just about anything in day to day to life. This video will examine healthcare in Omaha and then it will apply our findings to the sociological perspective so that we, as a community, can learn and better understand our home. The key elements to looking at Healthcare in Omaha will be the Omaha’s capacity for quality care, the common health issues many people of Omaha face and the cost of healthcare in Omaha. These three issues will then relate to our sociological perspective and how our city functions in healthcare as a whole.

Omaha is very fortunate to have multiple medical research centers that lead the country in medical developments.  Housed here are many hospitals, such as the Omaha Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and Methodist’s Women’s Hospital. Two of the more predominant healthcare facilities in Omaha are Creighton Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, or UNMC, both of which are ranked as some of the highest ranked medical schools and hospitals in the nation.

Healthcare in Omaha is some of the highest quality not only in our state, but in our nation – which brings us to the most common health issues that many people in Omaha face. The rates of sexually transmitted diseases and infections are surprising high within our city (“Midlands Voices” par. 2). Most frequently diagnosed are gonorrhea at almost 1000 confirmed cases and chlamydia at nearly 3,400 cases within the population last year, and those numbers are rising (“Communicable,” pdf pg.2). Let’s take a moment to look at the chlamydia number in a different way. In 2014, more people in Omaha had chlamydia than had the flu. Why? Among those with the most cases are teenagers and young adults whom are now more sexually active than ever.  Reasons for such “outbreaks” can be rooted from the lack of education that the teenagers receive.  Not only are they not adequately being taught to have safe sex for prevention of STD’s (“Midlands Voices” par. 5), but also, those whom do want to get tested and need treatment, they may not even be able to afford it. Besides, many STD’s can go undetected, therefore many people do not take the time or the money to get checked and receive proper medical attention for their diseases and infections.


[Image from “Communicable Disease Statistics,” pdf pg 2]


[Image from “Disease Morbidity Data,” pdf pg 1]

Another frequent health issue in Omaha is obesity. In 2010, sixty-one percent of the population in Omaha was either obese or over-weight (“Community Profile” par. 2) and this can lead to an array of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, some cancers, and breathing problems (“Live Well” par. 1). Omaha itself is ranked 142nd out of 182 (“Live Well” FAQ) major cities in risk factors of obesity. Child obesity alone was at 28% (“Community Profile” par. 2), and just like with the STDs, these numbers are on the rise. Many of the contributing factors in Omaha are lack of exercise and nutritional deficits. 96.6% of children don’t receive the government recommended serving amounts for fruits and vegetables, and 60% don’t take part in recommended amounts of physical activity (“Community Profile” par. 2). This can be due to two major reasons much the same as or relating to lack of education and poverty.  This is a lack of knowledge of how to eat healthy meal and how to incorporate physical activity alongside.  There may also be a lack of money causing the person to opt for the dollar menu at many fast food restaurants for fear of being able to afford something more nutritious.

So, with so many potential health risks, health insurance has become a necessity in our everyday life, so what can the people here do to make sure they’re covered? The average cost of health insurance for young women in Omaha is $75-200 a month with anywhere from $2,000-6,000 in deductibles. The average cost for a young man in the same standing ranges from $100-225 a month with deductibles from $2750-7,000 (“Health Insurance”). These costs can really add up, and though they are loosely based on the annual income of the individual, the actual expenses of everyday life sometimes prove to be more than a person is capable of affording.

Now, how does all of this information relate to our sociological perspective? Let’s start with the racial makeup of our city. Omaha is a diverse city, with about 14% black or Africa American, 14% Hispanic, 13% other or multiracial, and the remaining population is white non-Hispanic (“Omaha”). If we break up the city in simplistic terms, central to western Omaha is dominated by the white population, northeastern Omaha is dominated by the black or African American population, and southeastern areas in Omaha is where the Hispanic population dominates.


[Image Source Depreciated]

Average income for neighborhoods dominated by the black or African American population is $29,000, average income for neighborhoods dominated by the Hispanic population is around $31,500, and average income for neighborhoods dominated by the white non-Hispanic population is about $60,000, quite a bit higher than that of the other populations (“Omaha”). Healthcare, as discussed earlier, comes at a price. Families living on $29-31,000 annually, often times cannot afford both quality health insurance and other daily necessities. Proper care and treatment is often times overlooked when getting a doctor’s appointment, may be the difference between putting food on the table and going to bed hungry.

In addition to insurance being harder to receive, the access that families might have to healthcare facilities changes with their location as well. Most of the healthcare facilities are located in central Omaha, which can be easily traveled to with the public transportation system within the city. However, if you draw a map of all the facilities in Omaha, you will predominately see them in the center of the city, then stretching outward towards the west (“Google Maps”). While the eastern side of the city houses Creighton medical center, the majority of hospitals there are urgent care centers rather than primary care providers. The lack of access in this city is something that helps propel the spread of STDs and STIs, as discussed earlier. People in wealthier parts of the city can easily get checked for diseases and then receive treatment needed, where in lower income areas, dominated by minorities, it’s hard to seek help that is effective and affordable.


[Image courtesy of “Google Maps”]

On top of having limited access to care, studies have reported that minorities often times receive inferior care to that of their white counter-parts. Feelings of resentment towards healthcare providers can heavily suede a person from spending the time and money of seeking treatment.

It is also much less affordable for those families making only $29-31,000 annually to buy foods with good nutritional substance as opposed to ready-made food or foods containing an abundance of carbs to help them feel full when quantity is short. This mixed with the lack of physical activity leads to our rising obesity rates, especially that of childhood obesity (“Live Well” par. 1).

As sociologists, viewing this information, we can see a trend happening within our city. We know that Omaha is fully capable of providing excellent healthcare, having achieved many well-standing and efficient hospitals in the area. We also know that those hospitals are mainly in areas dominated by wealthier, white populations, and few are in areas where poorer minorities mainly reside. It is clear that there is money involved in healthcare, whether or not a person is insured. Having insurance might be the only reason a person from the lower-income part of town would have any access at all to healthcare, regardless of their location. It only makes sense that the areas populated with more money are also populated with more accessible healthcare facilities, compared to a lower income area with a population less likely to seek help. This reinforces the conflict perspective in sociology, which looks at how inequalities contribute to social differences and perpetuate differences in power.

This perspective views the issues in healthcare as an effect of our capitalist society. The commodification of health has taken being healthy from being an equal access ideal to a good that is sold in the marketplace. Basically, the wealthy can afford to be healthy, and the poor cannot afford to be sick. This perspective also suggests that there are two group involved in healthcare – the dominant and submissive – or the wealthy and the poor. The conflict perspective emphasizes group competition, the dominant group uses their money and power to keep the submissive group repressed. In this case, it means that the population with money controls healthcare, and they prevent or make it more difficult for anyone of a lower class standing to seek and receive medical care. Looking at our city as sociologists, it is easy to where this perspective comes into play.

As we gather more information using our sociological perspective, we get closer and closer to understanding the people around us and society as a whole. The city of Omaha has many different complex parts that make us one and understanding healthcare helps us become more of a connected society. From the capabilities we have to provide quality care to whether or not all people in Omaha are able to receive that care, or our high rates of STDs and rising obesity to their potential causes, and who that lives in Omaha can even afford health care, there is so much left to learn and understand about healthcare.

By: Joel Hachiya, Jasmine Reep, Shaun Hoschiet and Ian Ginnaty

Cited Resources:

“Communicable Disease Statistics.” Douglas County Health Department. Ed. Douglas County Health Department. Official Site of Omaha, Nebraska, 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. Main Site: http://www.douglascountyhealth.com/health-statistics/communicable-disease-statistics PDF: http://www.douglascountyhealth.com/images/stories/stats/morbidity/STD2013_short_final_opt.pdf

“Community Profile: Douglas County, Nebraska.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ed. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Oct. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dch/programs/communitiesputtingpreventiontowork/communities/profiles/obesity-ne_douglas-county.htm

“Disease Morbidity Data.” Douglas County Health Department. Ed. Douglas County Health Department. Official Site of Omaha, Nebraska, 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2015


“Google Maps.” Google Map. Google. n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.


“Health Insurance.” Find Affordable Plans and Buy Medical Coverage Online. Ed. EHealth. EHealthInsurance Services Inc., 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. https://www.ehealthinsurance.com/individual-family-health-insurance

Note: Male/Female, DoB: 1/1/1990, $30K Income, 68123 ZIP

“Live Well Omaha.” Live Well Omaha RSS. Ed. Live Well Omaha. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.http://livewellomaha.org/healthy-happy-kids/

FAQ: http://livewellomaha.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-omaha%E2%80%99s-health-ranking/

“Midlands Voices: Taking on Sensitive Issues for Teens.” Evans, Mark and Pour, Adi.  Omaha.com. Omaha World-Herald, 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. http://www.omaha.com/opinion/midlands-voices-taking-on-sensitive-issues-for-teens/article_53aecdb3-663e-512c-9e99-83bf4267fa5f.html

“Omaha, Nebraska.” (NE) Profile: Population, Maps, Real Estate, Averages, Homes, Statistics, Relocation, Travel, Jobs, Hospitals, Schools, Crime, Moving, Houses, News, Sex Offenders. Ed. City-data.com. Advameg Inc., 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.


Other Resources Used:

“Obesity and Diseases: Weighing Your Risks.” WebMD. Ed. Varnada Karriem. WebMD, 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/obesity-health-risks

“Report: STD Rates Surge in Douglas County.” KETV. Ed. KETV. KETV.com, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.http://www.ketv.com/health/report-std-rates-surge-in-douglas-county/31335748

“Home Page.” Home Page. Ed. Omaha Demographic Centers. UNO, 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.




Project authors:

Ian Ginnaty, Shaun Hoschiet, Joel Hachiya, Jasmine Reep

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