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Factors affecting health-care delivery

Updated April 17, 2017

Many individuals with or without health insurance coverage do not seek care even when they see a need. Identifying barriers to health care is important because of the negative effects of postponing assessment and treatment of health problems.

Finances

In almost every list of barriers preventing people from receiving health care in the United States, cost ranks first or near the top. People without insurance coverage are more likely to wait until their illness has become less treatable. Even with insurance, some cannot afford the medicines they need or co-payments.

If baby-sitting costs or reduced pay because of time off from work are too big a financial burden, access to medical care also suffers.

Language

Persons who have limited English proficiency are less likely to have a regular source of primary care and less likely to receive preventive care. They also are less satisfied with the care that they do receive and are more likely to report problems with care. The inability to understand the instructions a person receives from care providers increases the possibility that they will not properly take prescribed medicines or follow treatment plans.

Geography

One-fourth of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Compared with urban Americans, rural residents have higher poverty rates, a larger percentage of elderly, tend to be in poorer health and face more difficulty getting to health services. The circumstance of where you live has a significant overall effect on the number of primary-care doctors, specialists, hospitals and other health resources available. In rural communities, lack of transportation and distance to an emergency room or a hospital can be important barriers to receiving prompt treatment. Local communities find it difficult to obtain and keep medical and dental practitioners. Speciality services, such as treatments for rare diseases or expensive diagnostic equipment, are another area where lack of available resources is a concern.

Personal and Ethnic Beliefs

If you think medical providers will discriminate against treating you appropriately because of your race, religion, gender, ethnicity or country of origin, you are less likely to seek care in a timely fashion.

If you think home remedies will work better than medical treatments, you may not see your beliefs as a deterrent to health care. If you are afraid of vaccinations because you believe they cause autism, you may deny your child the preventive care he needs.

For a variety of social and psychological reasons, many young people and some males avoid seeking routine health and prevention services.

Conclusion

Some factors affecting health-care delivery are related to an individual's circumstances. These include finances, ability of the doctor and patient to communicate, where medical resources are located in relation to the individual's location and race, gender and ethnicity.

Other influencing factors are related to personal beliefs about medical care and medical care practitioners.

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About the Author

Roy Sylvan has a Ph.D. in communication studies. He directed a large city department of aging, was COO of a consulting company and provided management training to companies and nonprofits. Writing for more than 40 years, Sylvan has authored articles in trade journals, magazines and blogs, and wrote a how-to book on starting a business.