Having access to healthcare is important because patients’ health impacts the rest of their lives. There are many barriers to accessing health care that patients may face. These barriers include proximity to care, high costs, and transportation.
Proximity to Care
Proximity to care is important because it reduces the barrier to access care. Proximity to care has a lot to do with where patients live and where healthcare providers are located. Patients living in cities have greater proximity to care, while patients who live in suburbs or in rural areas have a longer distance to travel and may not seek care because of the distance. According to Wheel, there are roughly 60 million people who live in rural areas, which means that 60 million people will have less quality care due to the distance. This means that those living in cities and suburbs can have greater health outcomes than those living in rural areas.
Healthcare is expensive. The costs of care are reduced for patients in certain situations, such as if their employer covers some of the premium for health insurance. Without health insurance or having to cover the entire premium for an insurance policy can mean shouldering a high cost for patients. This cost only grows as families grow, especially if there is one parent who is in the workforce. Cost also affects treatment plans. Cost remains a huge barrier to access to medications, according to Xevant.
Even when all other factors are lined up, like the ability to get an appointment scheduled and access to insurance or funds for healthcare, lack of transportation can provide a barrier to accessing healthcare. There are many ways lack of transportation can affect patients. There are patients who cannot drive who may not have someone to drive them. They may not have access to a car with no available public transportation available to them. There may be additional financial barriers to transportation such as not being able to afford public transportation or fuel in a car. This is a factor that is gaining attention and there are options for utilizing non-emergency transportation, such as Uber, to partner with healthcare providers.
Healthcare is an important determinant of health, which is why access is so important. Patients may face barriers to accessing care, which may mean they delay or forgo essential care and their health can decline. Helping to remove these barriers can help patients improve their lives.
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