Health

Bridging the Healthcare Gap Experienced by the Underserved

Policy that ensures health care for all must be enacted soon if there is hope for those who remain underprivileged and underserved.

There are daunting challenges when aiming to provide healthcare to low-income individuals. Among the biggest of these challenges is the provision of care in response to the payment of that care. Even when government health insurance is involved, it often does not cover the actual cost of services. While third-party reimbursement can be helpful, it is usually a hopeful endeavor that is unreliable, inadequate, or non-existent.

The costs of care are higher in the United States than in many other countries, which puts considerable strain on the people and the system.  

Although many healthcare incentive programs are available, many of these programs only partially cover costs, if at all. It appears as if the only hope for the ever-increasing issue of poverty-stricken patients lies in changes to public policy.

Low-income individuals face endless hardships in life, and none more so than in their access to care. Free or low-cost clinics are often underfunded and overbooked, leaving many patients without quality care.

Charitable organizations often step up, claiming to bridge the gap in healthcare. Unfortunately,  even with the help of charity-minded individuals and services, the system falls short. Charitable organizations often lack the funding required to cover complex procedures, and life-saving treatments are generally unavailable for many in need. While they strive to serve those in desperate need, that need is far too significant to provide the required aid adequately. 

Healthcare providers dedicated to providing care to underprivileged individuals face the most significant hardships in delivering care with little expectation of remuneration. Healthcare services are expensive, regardless of who you are or where you live. Whether the cost is yours alone or belongs to health coverage providers, services come with a  hefty price tag. Personnel, technology, equipment, space, and so on have high costs associated with care. Even populations with above-average health insurance and high incomes suffer financial burdens regarding the out-of-pocket expenses related to healthcare.  

Society often fails to consider the risks involved in unfunded procedures. Healthcare is a human right in the eyes of many, and they assume that the government will foot the bill if the patients cannot afford to pay. Sadly, this is not the case in the United States. Even when the government does step in, it rarely steps up. Funding available today may not be available tomorrow, and procedures are left on the shoulders and in the wallets of those providing care.

This lack of funding has caused some care centers to avoid providing care to underprivileged people altogether, whether through eliminating emergency departments, relocating to more prosperous areas, or removing doctors who aim to provide unpaid care.  These centers distance themselves from low-income patients in measured and tactical ways, escalating an already out-of-control problem.

Imagine going to work today and not knowing if you will be paid for the hours you put in? That is the reality of U.S. healthcare.

With an increasing gap in capital and income, people of color experience increased barriers to accessing healthcare. This persistent gap leaves people of color, for example, with lower quality care and worse health outcomes than their white, wealthier counterparts in neighboring communities. Hospitals are regularly changing policies, and where you were treated yesterday may not take you on today. Many heartbreaking stories can be found online of people who have died because they were taken to a hospital only to discover they were ineligible for treatment due to inadequate coverage or lack of insurance.

With a global pandemic fresh in our minds and still raging strong in many areas, there is no better time than now to address this dire oversight. The U.S. healthcare system is hanging by a thread, and people’s lives hang in the balance. Policy that ensures health care for all must be enacted soon if there is hope for those who remain underprivileged and underserved.   

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