Barriers to Effective Health Care Services

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

You might take it for granted that you can go to the doctor on a whim, but some people aren't so lucky. This lesson will explain why some people may have a hard time accessing healthcare services.

Barriers to Healthcare Services

Without good health, it's difficult to enjoy the rest of what life has to offer. That's why keeping yourself healthy or getting healthier should be one of your top priorities. However, not all of us are able to access healthcare effectively. It largely depends on where we live and who we are.

This lesson will explore a few of the barriers to effective healthcare services and offer possible solutions for each barrier.

Physical and Psychological Barriers

Barbara is an elderly woman in her 80s. She no longer has good mobility and thus has a physical barrier to getting proper healthcare. She finds it difficult to get out of the house and also cannot drive a car. In order to access the healthcare she needs, she might consider living in an assisted living community, where she can be helped by staff members or be transported to a local clinic or hospital. An assisted living community may have doctors who can come to Barbara if she has trouble leaving her home. If she doesn't want to live in such a community, Barbara can employ the likes of specialized transportation services that help eligible individuals get from point A to point B. They'll come to her home, pick her up, and drop her off as needed.

Living next door to Barbara is a man named Jack. Jack has a psychological disorder. Part of his disorder includes significant anxiety, so he finds it difficult to be in the outer world in general, let alone go to a clinic or a hospital. Oftentimes, people with psychological disorders believe they will look weak if they admit to having a disorder and seek help to address it. This is yet another barrier to effectively accessing healthcare services.

In Jack's case, he can be counseled at home while he works on improving his ability to venture outdoors. And society in general can help people like Jack overcome feelings of shame or ridicule through education. Communities can band together to create everything from information sessions to public campaigns that explain to the public how psychological disorders are real diseases that need to be treated.

Barriers and Resources

Another big barrier to healthcare involves resources, such as financial resources. For people with high-deductible health plans or those living in countries where they need to pay for healthcare out of pocket, the issue of money is a very real one. These people may want to get treatment, and may be able to access a hospital or clinic, but they will not have the means by which to pay for healthcare services. The solutions to this problem are varied and depend upon the specific country in question. Solutions can range from providing tax credits to low income families (so they can afford insurance premiums) to creating a universal healthcare system.

Other resource-based barriers to accessing healthcare include the inability of a clinic or hospital to gather enough supplies to deliver proper medical treatment. This is commonly the case in some developing nations; even if people can pay for their medical care, they simply may not have access to good healthcare. Solutions to this problem often involve non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing medications and medical expertise in places where supplies and expertise are lacking. Governments also provide financial assistance to impoverished nations and their people through foreign aid programs. Community health centers and low-cost clinics, like those found in a local pharmacy, are another way by which people can avoid high medical costs, including copays or visitation fees.

Cultural and Geographical Barriers

Speaking of different nations, cultural barriers may pose a problem with respect to getting proper healthcare services. For instance, some cultures place great importance on religion and hold a belief that everything 'is in God's hands'. This may cause members of such a culture to forego modern medical care in the belief that God will ultimately decide their fate, regardless of any potential medical intervention. These longstanding beliefs are difficult to influence. However, people can be urged to access modern medicine through local education programs promoting the benefits of healthcare. Such programs may emphasize how a person's religious beliefs will not be contradicted by a medical procedure or treatment plan.

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