In the US, there’s a big gap between people with access to healthcare and those without. Various factors cause this divide. Language barriers, long distances, and the ability to pay for healthcare or insurance all play a significant role.
In the past few years, however, technology has narrowed the unavailability of adequate healthcare. Demographics who had few opportunities before can now seek help without relocating or traveling far, and healthcare teams can get the information they need to make decisions and offer support.
Obstacles Standing Between Patients and Providers
Money is a huge barrier to accessing healthcare for many Americans, which is not surprising, considering the average American spent $4,968 on healthcare in 2018.
In the same year, 38.1 million Americans—more than 10% of the country’s population—lived below the poverty line. Low income, coupled with high healthcare costs, means many people in the US do not have adequate insurance.
Each year, roughly 45,000 Americans die because they don’t have health insurance.
Financial difficulties are even worse for low-income adults with children to look after. Across the country, providing childcare for an infant in a center costs an average of $1,230 per month.
Another problem with accessing quality healthcare in the US, especially for immigrants, is the language barrier. As reported in the Washington Examiner, around 22% of people in the country do not speak English at home.
Living in rural areas poses difficulties in receiving adequate coverage. Long distances from the next “big city” can be significant in some areas, causing many patients to struggle to get the help they need.
Why Access to Healthcare Must Be Widened
Widening access to healthcare is essential not only for patients but also for the economy. When healthcare is more accessible, fewer patients develop severe conditions. That, in turn, results in a healthier population, mentally, physically, and economically.
The Effects of Limited Healthcare Access on the Individual
When healthcare is not readily available, untreated conditions become more complicated. If patients don’t have access to the help they need and ignore possible warning signs, they run the risk of a preventable hospitalization later on.
A lack of healthcare coverage also impacts the mental well-being of each individual. Traveling long distances regularly causes stress that could otherwise have been avoided, and uncertainty whether medical support is warranted can cause anxiety for many adults.
The Effect of Limited Healthcare Access on the US Economy
The US spends a lot on healthcare. Seventeen percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is spent on health services, which is over double the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 8.6%.
The country also spends much more on healthcare per capita than other developed countries. Healthcare costs per capita in the US stand at $11,072, compared to Switzerland in second place, at $7,732.
Limited healthcare access causes a bigger strain on the economy. First, uncontrolled and unmanaged illnesses become more expensive to deal with as conditions worsen. Patients will also need to visit hospitals more frequently in the long term, which may put a bigger strain on hospital resources, requiring more to be spent on expanding facilities.
How Telehealth is Widening Access, and What This Means in the Long Term
Telehealth helps bridge numerous gaps in healthcare provision.
Telehealth allows for round-the-clock monitoring so healthcare workers can take action faster. Since they’re able to tend to patients’ needs more quickly, doctors may be able to address conditions before they develop into something more serious.
Digital health provides access to healthcare providers for less mobile patients to get the answers and support they need without traveling. Beyond improving physical health, telehealth is also helping those living in rural areas to manage their stress levels and improve mental wellbeing.
Telehealth also helps patients connect with a range of doctors that can deal with possible language and cultural issues. As a result, providers can offer tailored services and improve satisfaction.
How ChronWell Can Help
ChronWell helps widen patient access to healthcare through their digital health services, including remote patient monitoring (RPM). This technology allows healthcare workers to check on a patient’s condition 24/7.
ChronWell’s technology provides doctors the information they need in order to tweak patients’ plans and offer the most appropriate care. It enables doctors to perform screening for remote patients and detect underlying conditions that may need immediate attention.
If you’d like to speak to one of our experts about setting up a remote patient monitoring (RPM) plan, contact us today.
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