While the quality of U.S. healthcare and patient outcomes has generally increased over time, access to care — and thus to positive patient outcomes — is not equitable to all people. Overall, one in 10 Americans don’t have health insurance, which is fallout of a system breaking under the weight of high costs and deepening complexity.
Diabetes rates are more than 30% higher among Native Americans and Latinos than among Whites. Rates of death attributable to heart disease, stroke, and prostate and breast cancers remain much higher in black populations.
If you live in a rural area and have a chronic disease (or multiple diseases) provider options are more limited than in densely populated areas. That means availability of a specialist or even the ability to get an appointment can be a challenge.
There are many other variables that impact healthcare access and equity: socioeconomics, technology, gender, language barriers and more. These factors are further complicated by an individual’s specific care needs.
Simply put, people without adequate healthcare insurance coverage or proximity to quality care don’t have the same opportunities to access care and their overall health may be adversely affected.
Making things worse, the U.S. healthcare system continues to be extremely difficult to navigate and is fraught with administrative burden. When it is easier and faster to access most basic human needs than it is to visit a care provider, change is necessary. In the search for meaningful solutions to these inequities, women’s health and technological investment are clear places to start.