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How Health Trends & Location Impact U.S. Health Care

Instructor: Meagan Wilson

Meagan holds a Bachelor's of Health Administration with an emphasis in Long Term Care, a Master's of Health Administration, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Services.

This lesson will discuss different factors that affect health care trends in the United States. Factors such as socioeconomic status, politics, community health initiatives, and geographic location will be examined and their impact on health care trends discussed.

Trends That Affect Health Care

Have you ever watched the television reality show about the people who live in very remote parts of Alaska? It seems to snow for months on end, and they have to be very diligent about getting their needed supplies before winter starts. It's also very difficult for them to travel, and if they do, the commute is long and often dangerous.

Some of these individuals are elderly in age as well, and obtaining medical care is often a large endeavor for them. If there is a medical emergency, it can be a matter of life and death.

Location is just one example of the many barriers to health care and factors contributing to trends in health care. Often, the factors that affect health care trends are so much a part of everyday life that we don't realize the effect they have on the changes in how health care is delivered and received.

Trends in health care are affected by socioeconomics, political factors, community health initiatives, and geographic location.
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Factors That Affect Health Care Trends

Socioeconomic

While it's said that money can't buy happiness, money does have the ability to affect many things. Access to health care as well as how a population views health care are both directly linked to the socioeconomic status of an area.

Socioeconomics refers to the wealth of an area, including income, resources, employment, and literacy rates.

Low socioeconomic areas often have low literacy rates. Literacy rates have a great impact on how health and the need for health care are viewed. The ability to read is linked to obtaining a higher level of education, higher paying jobs, having access to health insurance, and receiving preventative care.

When considering health care programs and initiatives for a year, those in charge must take into account the socioeconomic status of the target area. This information will dictate the barriers that the area faces and help to determine the strategy of public health programs. This may mean directing initiatives towards proper nutrition, access to education, and improving literacy rates in an effort to improve health.

Political

Happenings in the political realm also have a great effect on the direction of health care trends.

Changes in legislature, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), had a great impact on insurance and access to care. As policies and legislature change funding for public programs, so too will the focus on health care change.

For example, many public health programs run off grants, and if political changes cut this funding, the programs will have to close. Additionally, programs such as Medicare and Medicaid— government-funded programs—are affected by political changes and funding.

Community Health

Every community is different and, therefore, has different needs and areas of focus when it comes to health.

When the Zika virus appeared a few years ago, communities surrounding the area where the virus was first seen focused on preventing its spread to their areas. Full-fledged emergency health action plans were put into place and implemented. However, communities in other states, while putting in place preventative measures, did not focus all of their public health efforts on the virus since it was not as major a concern for them.

Community health programs and initiatives are determined by identification and prioritization of local needs. National and state initiatives are also taken into consideration; however, in communities, the focus for the year is generally determined through data collection and analysis. This helps the community officials to best determine where to focus their efforts and funds.

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