High healthcare costs are one of the primary causes of access issues among millions of people – this is particularly evident in the United States where health insurance coverage isn’t universal and government services may be limited.
In order to improve access to healthcare, we need to build effective community health systems consisting of expanded clinics and other local points of service, while simultaneously advocating for horizontal financial equity across coverage subsidies regardless of employment status and geography.
Invest in Technology
In the US, most health care is covered by private and government-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid; however, high out-of-pocket costs continue to make accessing care difficult and costly for many – especially those living in poverty or struggling in middle class communities where choosing between food or rent payments and receiving medical treatment can often be unavoidable. Many also report forgoing health care due to cost issues which disproportionately impacts those from lower income backgrounds.
One key to making health care more accessible is reducing out-of-pocket costs. Innovative technology is being employed in various ways to achieve this, such as using telehealth to deliver care without needing to travel in person; this service is especially advantageous for people living far away from hospitals or experiencing mobility issues, and could prove particularly useful during pandemic outbreaks.
Value-based care offers another method for lowering out-of-pocket costs: it rewards providers who help keep patients out of emergency rooms, thus helping reduce health care spending while simultaneously increasing access for American citizens.
Finaly, to ensure greater accessibility is by guaranteeing all Americans can gain access to quality health care, this requires eliminating barriers and abuses by the insurance industry. I was instrumental in passing into law the Affordable Care Act which did just that in 2010. It prohibits abusive practices like denying coverage for preexisting conditions and setting annual or lifetime limits as well as allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ plans while closing “donut holes” in prescription drug coverage plans.
An approach to solving these problems begins by listening carefully to those most affected, with radical empathy aimed at eliminating biases and understanding there is no universally applicable solution to access quality health care for all. Communities must be involved throughout this process – designing, testing and implementing new solutions; as well as recruiting a workforce which mirrors those being served, so solutions truly address universal needs.
Invest in Education
American health care costs present a considerable barrier to access. This is particularly true for low-income individuals and families, who must choose between paying rent or food and health care bills. When faced with these financial hurdles, many choose forgoing needed treatment altogether; but with access to adequate and affordable health coverage they are more likely to receive preventative services that contribute significantly to overall wellbeing.
Education investment is one of the key ways to make healthcare accessible for American citizens, whether through early childhood development programs or secondary, tertiary or postsecondary studies. By making investments in this arena, Americans become healthier citizens that contribute positively to our economy.
One way of expanding access to health care is through investing in educational resources for medical students. This allows physicians to take a more comprehensive approach when treating their patients’ health and well-being, and ensures doctors receive training in innovative practices such as value-based care and population health management.
Federal policy initiatives can also play an integral part in making health care more accessible to Americans. Recently, for example, the administration announced a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to assist those losing Medicaid or CHIP coverage after 2024 and reduce gaps in coverage by providing 60 days before or 90 days after losing eligibility the opportunity to sign up with Marketplace coverage 60-90 days ahead of losing eligibility – thus helping ensure smooth coverage transition.
Government can also promote access to health care by supporting innovative educational programs for medical students. Intermountain Healthcare has collaborated with University of Utah Medical School on creating an innovative new curriculum which encourages future physicians to consider a patient’s overall health when making treatment decisions – in contrast with the standard volume-based model that has long dominated medicine.
Other measures taken to increase health care accessibility include increasing insurance coverage rates, ensuring physicians are ready for current and future needs of their patients, and strengthening communication between patients and health care providers. Such efforts help mitigate health care disparities across America while creating an equitable system of care.
Invest in Health Care
Many Americans lack access to quality health care services. Even with comprehensive options like the Affordable Care Act in place, many still find themselves unable to afford health insurance and pay for healthcare when needed – this is especially true among low-income families in America, who face even greater difficulties affording healthcare coverage and access. Furthermore, our country stands out among rich countries by having income-based disparities when it comes to access and coverage for healthcare.
The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions and prohibits annual or lifetime benefit limits; however, high deductibles and copayments remain significant barriers for many who need care – forcing many people to choose between paying rent/mortgage payments and going without needed medical treatment; it is an unacceptable choice, particularly among families living below poverty threshold or who rely on public coverage through Medicaid.
Investment in primary care systems is one of the keys to eliminating barriers to health care access, such as increasing investment in the National Health Service Corps – which offers scholarships for doctors who wish to practice in rural areas with shortages; providing funding for new community health centers providing primary and behavioral health services; as well as supporting innovative practices like Patient-Centered Medical Home model which seeks to enhance continuity and outcomes of care.
Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Medical School have come together to introduce an innovative population health training program, which equips physicians not only with immediate medical needs but also the social determinants of health. Other health care organizations should follow suit as it helps accelerate value-based care adoption – the only way to create an accessible system that keeps people healthy while remaining financially sustainable for provider institutions and patients alike.
There are various other methods for increasing access to healthcare for American citizens, such as expanding Medicaid in 19 states that have not done so already; strengthening cost protection through expanding Health Savings Accounts and creating a single-payer system; and addressing chronic disease prevalence directly. All these steps will ensure everyone in America has access to high-quality, cost-effective health care. If you live in California and want to find out how healthy it is compared to other states you can check out this article on iheart.com.
Invest in the Community
Investment in community development and addressing social determinants of health can provide people with easier access to healthcare, but much remains to be done. Many communities suffer from decades of structural racism and disinvestment that contributes to high levels of poverty as well as significant health disparities – leading to low rates of cancer screenings due to financial issues or no doctor providing these services.
High health care costs are another significant barrier to accessing care, particularly among those earning below the poverty line or in the middle class. Without health insurance or having coverage with high deductibles that prevent them from accessing needed services, people from low-income families face an unacceptable choice between forgoing healthcare or neglecting other essential needs such as rent or food bills – an unacceptable reality that disproportionately burdens people living on fixed incomes.
As part of an effort to ensure access to healthcare for Americans, hospitals must invest in their communities. There are various means hospitals and healthcare institutions can do this – community benefit allows hospitals to set aside a percentage of revenue for public purposes while payment-in-lieu-of-taxes programs like Pennsylvania’s can also play an integral role.
Place-based investment is another method for giving back to the community, which involves improving a specific area. Hospitals and healthcare institutions use this approach to address issues related to housing insecurity that have been linked with poor health outcomes.
Healthcare organizations seeking to implement an effective community investment strategy must educate their employees on the social determinants of health. Once aware, they should create an investment plan based on both their resources and community needs, along with engaging various stakeholders such as local leaders, philanthropists, banks, CDFIs and developers in brainstorming potential investments that make the biggest impactful statements about them as potential sources. They should then utilize existing assets like land and financial resources in their planning strategy in order to maximize returns.