36 Million U.S. Residents Have Problems With Access to Care, Report Finds
An estimated 36 million U.S. residents, many of whom have health insurance or qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, have problems with access to physicians or other providers, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Association of Community Health Centers, Reuters/Yahoo! News reports. According to the report, about half of those 36 million residents have some form of health insurance but cannot obtain care because local physicians do not accept their coverage or they have no health care facilities in their areas. "At 28%, Latinos have the highest concentration of medically unserved people," NACHC said in a statement. The report also found that Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri and Texas had the most residents with access to care problems. "One in eight Americans -- that's 12% of the population -- are who we call 'medically unserved,' with no access to health care," Dan Hawkins, NACHC vice president for policy, said, adding, "They live in inner cities and in isolated rural communities. But no matter where they live, the story is the same: They can't get health care because there aren't enough doctors in their communities who are willing or able to care for them." Access to care problems prompt many individuals to wait until they become seriously ill to seek treatment, often in emergency departments, according to NACHC. "Where the unserved live, there are higher rates of infant and childhood illnesses and higher mortality rates," Dr. Gary Wiltz, medical director of Teche Action Board, a community health center in Louisiana, said. NACHC called on HHS and Congress to provide additional funds for community health centers to help address the issue (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 3/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.