Access to Health Care
Access to health care refers to the individual’s ability to obtain and use needed services (Ellis & Hartley, 2008). Access to health care affects a multitude of people. Uninsured, underinsured, elderly, lower socioeconomic class, minorities, and people that live in remote areas are at the highest risk for lack of access to health care. There are also economical and political roles that complicate access to health care. Access to health care is a multi-faceted concept involving geographic, economics, or sociocultural issues. With my extensive research on access to health care, I hope to provide influences regarding; who is affected by lack of access, geographic, economic, sociocultural access, and political, legal and ethical implications.
Economical and political access to health care is in huge debate currently, from health care reform, Medicare, and Medicaid. Economical and political access affects most of the population. Economic access is often dependent on having a health plan or being eligible for one of the government programs (Ellis & Hartley, 2008). The U.S Census Bureau estimates that nearly 50.7 million Americans do not currently have health insurance (p. 24). Ever since its inception, access to health care has been a heavily debated topic both on a federal and state level. The argument has been made for the implementation of health care reform due to the increasing number of uninsured and underinsured American citizens. The World Health Organization (2006) assessed that, “the highest standard of health should be within reach to all, without distinction of race, religion, political belief, and economic or social condition” (para. 1). Ellis and Hartley (2008) point out, private insurance companies raise deductibles and co-payments in attempt to get patients to use services wisely. This sounds great in theory; however, lower income families may delay or avoid timely care. Uninsured and underinsured citizens are finding it extremely difficult to pay for insurance premiums and deductibles. This limits the care they can receive, and at which institutions they have access. American citizens with prior underlying health conditions or other issues are forced to pay expensive health care premiums, thus, preventing individuals from lower socio-economic statuses to afford health insurance. In 2007, 62.1% of all bankruptcies were medical; 92% of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5000 (American Journal of Medicine, 2009). Political influence plays a huge role in access to health care; with health care reform, Americans can have access to gain the coverage needed for proper health care. However, agreeing upon what health care reform will consist of has been of particular argument among political leaders. Democrats and Republicans have long since failed to agree upon a mutual consensus regarding the future health care reform. This long-standing difference in ideology between these opposing factions has made passing new health care legislation difficult. Another solution to access to health care that has been proposed is, standardizing health care. Standardizing national health insurance will not be an easy process. Numerous private-sector insurance companies have a financially-vested interest with their consumers. Nationalizing health care would place the federal government as a direct competitor against these companies. U.S. citizens would have the decision on purchasing private insurance or insurance offered by the government, which could ultimately affect private corporations’ outcome. Another group with interest in reform and affected by limited access to health care is, aging American citizens. The elderly will see a drastic change in their Medicare benefits due to the government cutting nearly $500 billion from the Medicare program (Himmelstein, Thorne, and Warren, 2009). This change in benefits could cost senior citizens substantially...
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