June 8, 2012
Cynthia Holsen R.N. – C.W.H.N.P.
Barriers and Disparities in Health Care
Everyone should have the opportunity to achieve a healthy life and have comprehensive health care services available to them. To achieve this healthy life, people need to have access to the health care system and to a health care provider with whom they can develop a trusting relationship. However, existing barriers to attaining health care services often lead to disparities which in turn lead to differences in life expectancy, health status and a higher prevalence of certain chronic diseases (HealthyPeople.gov, 2012). Barriers
Barriers to health care can be defined as conditions that can restrict or prevent the access of necessary health care for vulnerable populations. In their study on public health insurance programs, DeVoe, et al. (2007) report that low-income families identified lack of insurance coverage, poor access to services, and unaffordable costs as the 3 major barriers to accessing health care. Even when families are able to obtain insurance, they still face obstacles such as unaffordable co-pays for office visits, deductibles, and prescriptions. Lack of insurance coverage and inability to pay for out-of-pocket expenses were also cited as the most common barriers by families in a study by Kullgren and McLaughlin (2010). When studying the elderly population, Horton (2010) found that socioeconomic barriers, including lack of insurance and low income, were the most frequent indicators of the inability to access adequate health care. A second barrier that affects most vulnerable populations is a geographic barrier. Geographic barriers can affect people living in rural areas as well as inner cities. Kullgren and McLaughlin (2010) explain that these patients are affected by the lack of services and health care professionals. Inner cities as well as rural areas are affected by barriers such as problems with...