Access to Care
Access to affordable and quality health care is important to everyone’s physical, social and mental health. It is the ability to get the needed, affordable, convenient, acceptable, and effective health services in a timely manner. The components of access to care include services that are available, affordable, appropriate, effective, fair, and timely.
Access to Care
Availability of affordable and appropriate services that are effective, fair and timely make up access to care. This quality level of care encompasses the location, hours of operation, correct array of services and the capacity to deliver a high level of service. Healthcare must be affordable and not cause a hardship, while allowing for multiple ways to pay such as insurance, direct payment and charity care. Health services that are performed to consumer satisfaction by socially and culturally sensitive healthcare workers delivering evidence-based-informed care are the final components. Education and supportive services results in prevention and healthier homes.
Why is it important?
Having access to care allows individuals to enter the health care system, find care easily and locally, pay for care and get their health needs met. It is necessary for doctors to offer affordable care, be available to treat patients, and be located in close proximity to patients. Having health insurance does not guarantee these needed factors exist in all neighborhoods. Communities with low health insurance rates often have fewer doctors, hospital beds and emergency resources than areas with higher rates.
Many people contract HIV annually. A large percentage of cases are youth 13-24 years of age. If diagnosed and treated, life expectancy is close to persons without HIV. Unfortunately, a person diagnosed and not treated lives less than half as many years. Reduce your risk of HIV infection, by using condoms correctly every time you have vaginal, oral or anal sex.
What is Poverty?
In the United States, a monetary definition of poverty is a family of four with income less than $69 per day. Individuals with income less than $34 per day are also defined as living at the poverty level. These poverty thresholds are set by the U.S. Census Bureau. People living in poverty do not have enough money for basic necessities of life such as food, clothing or housing. Areas of poverty have an effect on crime and the communities are surrounded by food desserts with limited access and opportunities for physical activity. Poverty even affects the filling of prescriptions or taking medication as prescribed.
Poverty has an effect on the crime rate. The US Bureau of Crime Statistics compared crime rates for persons living in poverty to person living in high income households from 2008-2012 and reported the following:
- Poor persons had double that rate of violent victimization – (39.8 per 1,000)
- Poorer person had higher rates of firearm violence (3.5 per 1,000)
- Rate of violence for poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000)
- Rate of violence for poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000)
The USDA defines a Food Desert as a part of the country where there is a shortage of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is because of a lack of healthy food providers such as grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Instead, a lot of poor neighborhoods have many local quickie mart/corner stores that sell food with high levels of processed sugars and fats. A lack of healthy food choices is a big problem that contributes to our nation’s obesity epidemic.
Education provides the foundation that leads to better health and longer life expectancies. U.S. adults with college degrees secure higher paying jobs with insurance benefits. In contrast, life expectancy for adults without a high school diploma is lower due to less income, no insurance and a lack of heath literacy.
Lack of Physical Activity
Physical inactivity is a public health problem connected to economics and geography. Less access to parks and facilities, along with unsafe walking neighborhoods or gym memberships that are financially out of reach leads to families not meeting minimum levels of aerobic activity.
Poor adults were more likely not to take their medicines as prescribed in order to save money. Also, younger adults, ages 18-64, are twice as likely to skip doses, take less medication and delay filing prescription medications because of limited finances than adults 65 and older. Not taking medications as prescribed may lead to problems connected to a medical condition and may increase medical cost if there is a need for hospitalization.
Access to Care Fact Sheet
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Access to Care Community Partners
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