Access to health care and health care costs are once again a part of the political platform this year
Especially as we countdown to Election Day in November. No matter which side of the aisle you prefer to sit, access health care and controlling health costs is an ongoing concern for Americans.
While the economy has taken a beating over the last few years, access to health care has suffered accordingly. Many people have lost their jobs and health coverage is not what it used to be.
Americans are either under-insured or not insured at all, causing them to look more closely at what they do have in the way of medical attention and treatment. Although the ability to access health care is a broad concept, it is time to fully understand what “access” to health care really is and how it affects you.
What exactly IS “access” to health care?
Access to health care gives patients the opportunity to utilize appropriate health care resources in order to preserve or improve their well-being. Whether the patient stays in their area or travels within the network of doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, or spas, they are able to tap into the emotional, mental, and physical health resources.
However, this is not the only definition of access to health care. The term also encapsulates at least four aspects required to evaluate health. If services are available to a patient, along with an adequate supply of services, then they can claim “access” to services.
What are the layers of health care access?
Your ability to gain access to health care depends on a number of factors that come into play.
They include the following:
- Organizational structures
- Social aspects
- Financial restraints
- Cultural barriers
The physical accessibility and acceptability of services play a role in one’s ability to access health care. How is it organized? Do they accept any patient, no matter if they cannot afford the high health care costs?
What is the process by which the patient is given medical attention despite their financial resources? Available medical services must be affordable, pertinent, and helpful if the patient is going to gain access to favorable health care outcomes.
The social aspect includes the geographic location and proximity to medical resources, education, treatments, and ongoing health care services.
Health care costs are typically high in the U.S., affecting every aspect of health care from the initial diagnosis to the recommended treatment and from expensive prescriptions to post-treatment care. A patient’s access to health care is then dependent on the affordability of the services.
In turn, this can affect the quality of attention received from various care facilities.
Cultural barriers include language, etiquette, and customs. If a patient speaks a language not spoken by the physician or attending staff, their ability to successfully utilize the advancements in medicine and access health care can be severely limited. Customs, of course, relate accordingly.