Before the lecture last week, I did not realize how many factors can affect your health. I thought the main way you could be healthy was to eat your fruits and vegetables and exercise, but in reality there are way more factors. Being aware of my intersectionality, I can find the ways my social identities affect my health.

My parents were refugees from the communist regime in Vietnam so they came to this country with no money. I grew up with very low income so I could only eat what my parents could afford and that usually consisted of fast food. My family’s lack of money very often negatively affected my heath. My parents could not afford to take me to the doctor’s every time I was sick and I was sick often. My family is financially better now but going to the doctor’s is still kind of foreign to me.

Being a full time student is like my job right now so I think UMich is a social determinant. Here at the University of Michigan, our tuition pays for healthcare so we can use it for STI testing or psychiatric help. At UHS I got some blood work done and it was “free” because my tuition payed for it. Students here at UMich also have access to the CCRB. There are numerous resources here that the university offers that can help us with not just our physical health but our mental health. I also went to one of the flu shot clinics that the university offers.

There are many social determinants that can negatively affect our health. It is sad that we can not change some of these things or they are hard to change, such as I can’t change my race or change my socioeconomic status.


  1. Tony, I enjoyed reading your blogpost and appreciate you sharing with us! Though I was well aware of many of the social determinants of health, I agree it was definitely shocking to hear some of the statistics from lecture. I was especially shocked when I saw the graph of how America was such a noticeable outlier on the graph of how much countries spend on health care versus their average life expectancy. As far as my own social identities, I grew up in a very diverse suburb of Chicago. Most people I knew looked and acted very different than me, but I never noticed significant differences in others’ health or treatment. Furthermore, I grew up with a pharmacist in my own home: my mother. I never realized how fortunate I was to have the resources needed whenever I got the common cold or seasonal flu. I used to take my mother’s understanding of symptoms and availability of medication for granted. Now, I understand that I am very lucky. I was saddened to learn that health was dependant on factors that people have no control over– race, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. It makes me wonder what more can be done to prevent health disparities? I also feel extremely fortunate to be a student at the University of Michigan. I was concerned about my personal health and wellbeing without my mother’s knowledge constantly reassuring me but like you said, we have so many incredible resources here that push us to make our health– both mental and physical– one of our top priorities.

  2. I understand where you are coming from Tony. I also grew up in a family of low economic status. My family and I had many health issues. There are many social determinant factors that has contributed to this. When I was younger, I see everyone to be the same and that how we lived and what we do determines how well a person is doing. Now, I have learned that they are many factors that play a role in determining a health of a person.

    Factors such a race, where you lived, and access to healthcare are things that can affect your health. Most people like me used to believe that exercising and eating well are the only thing that determines how healthy you are, but like we learned, they are many other factors that play a role in a person’s health. These are factors that unfortunately a person cannot control. The statistics about the health disparity among certain races are very shocking. A whopping 35% of Hispanics and 36%
    African American are living below the poverty line. These statistics show there are many effects on the person’s health. Low economic status mean it will be much harder to buy insurance meaning more difficult to have access to healthcare. What are things we can do to help resolve these issues to better accommodate the social determinants that people cannot change?

  3. Interesting perspective Tony. I’m here to share the pros and cons on health being on the other side of the SES. Growing up in an upper-class family, I never had to worry about health expenses. I had been covered by my parents’ insurance since I was born. Whenever I got sick as a child, my parents would take me to the best hospitals in the city and get appointments with experience doctors. I never had to think about the affordability of medicines and healthcare. When I got my upper wisdom tooth removed during the summer, I went to a clinic close to my home. The dentist wasn’t as experienced as I expected and it took around 5 minutes of misery (probably something with anesthetic) to get the teeth out. He also warned me that the bottom wisdom tooth was growing horizontally and might take 30minutes to an hour to get it out. So for the bottom wisdom tooth, I went to a fancier hospital and paid twice as much for an reputable expert to pull it out. The entire process took less than 10 minutes and it was less painful that my first experience. The pro of being wealthy is that you can choose to have better quality health service. The con was that I always had money for snacks and I ended eating them all the time and became obese

  4. Hi Tony,
    thank you for sharing your story. Growing up in a country which was in an entirely different place on the graph we were shown in lecture, I was used to a very different health care standard than the one in the US. Everyone, no matter what their background was had health insurance and even though there was some separation in towns according to people’s SES it was never anything that could’ve had as extreme of an impact on people’s health as it does here. It was definitely an eye opening lecture and reading everyone’s blogposts really made me think about health care and health care accessibility here.

  5. Hi Tony. The more I think about the social determinants of my health, the more privileged I feel. I myself grew up in a middle class household, and regularly went in for doctor and dentist appointments. My mother was able to stay at home while my father worked, so I got a lot of attention at a young age, and she always fed me nutritious meals.

    My experience however, is a stark contrast to my father’s. My dad came from a poor single parent household and shared one bed with his 6 siblings. His house was located in an industrial part of Memphis, Tennesee right next to a factory which regularly released chemicals into the environment. He never went to the doctor or the dentist, but he still ate well and was able to become a college athlete. His set of social determinants of health were completely different from mine, and had different effects on us. This lecture really got me thinking, and I’m grateful for it.

  6. It was definitely interesting hearing your side of things, Tony. We’ve talked pretty often, but I never really knew the sort of circumstances you came from. In regards to me, I’ve personally never really thought about health all that much. While not rich, my mom was excellent at managing household expenses and insurance, so getting sick was never a matter of “how are we going to pay for it,” but rather, “how many days of school is Darren going to miss?”

    Lecture really showed me the extent of how things are outside of my personal bubble, and how other people around me are faring. It’s disheartening to think that the American government funnels large amounts of money into healthcare, with results being only somewhat successful; finding this fact out came as a startling realization for me, and gave me a bit more perspective on the contempt surrounding American healthcare.

Leave a Reply