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Barriers to Health Care

Though we boast of tremendous development in the health sector, we can't deny the fact that there do exist some barriers to basic health care, which fuel the haphazardness that prevails in this sector.
WellnessKeen Staff
Fear of doctor Then and Now
When we talk about the barriers to health care, we refer to the numerous factors owing to which an average citizen of the nation either doesn't get the necessary health care, or gets inferior health care as compared to others. A range of factors come together to give rise to such barriers; the most prominent ones being financial constraints, language barrier, and inadequate knowledge about the system. Studies have revealed that millions of Americans experience difficulty or delays in getting necessary medical attention owing to these barriers.

Decoding the Barriers to Health Care

In terms of providing the basic health care, a lot needs to be done across the world. One of the basic steps is to identify the barriers encountered in the process. These barriers are broadly categorized into four groups: geographical, socioeconomic, cultural, and organizational.

Geographical Barriers: The urban-rural divide is the most prominent factor in this case. Given a choice, a vast majority of the medical practitioners choose to work in the urban areas. This creates a shortage of staff in the rural medical centers. That, however, doesn't mean that the geographical health care barriers are only restricted to the rural regions. Such disturbing trends are witnessed in the urban regions as well. Some cities, for instance, have become agglomerations of medical institutions, but the patient base to which it caters is not to be seen in the radius of miles around it.

Socioeconomic Barriers: When we talk about the socioeconomic barriers, both social factors, like improper education, lack of knowledge, etc., and economic factors, like inability of the patient to pay the fees, lack of health insurance, and other such aspects, come into play. The fact that a large number of people are uninsured makes medical practitioners hesitant in taking up their cases. However, these people cite that it is the lack of knowledge about the affordable health insurance options that is keeping them back from opting for insurance. Some of these barriers can also be traced to the urban-rural divide, with a substantial economic disparity between the two.

Cultural Barriers: As far as cultural barriers are concerned, they are primarily related to the social, linguistic, and religious issues. Social and religious taboos within particular cultures do hold back many females from approaching a gynecologist for problems related to sexual health. As far as linguistic differences are concerned, the United States, wherein a large section of immigrants can't speak English, is perhaps the best example. Rapid increase in the number of immigrants in the United States and other developed regions, only means that these cultural differences will worsen with time if ignored.

Organizational Barriers: Several organizational barriers also play a crucial role when it comes to the failure to impart proper health care to the needy. While a large number of medical practitioners allege that working with people from the limited income group is difficult (as they don't give importance to the advice given to them), these people cite their economic situation as the prominent factor for their lack of interest in following up with the medical practitioner, going for necessary tests, following proper medical procedures, etc. Such organizational barriers only add to all the other factors mentioned above and result in problems in imparting health care.

Irrespective of whether only one or more of these barriers are prominent, the end result is bound to be improper health care provisions in the society. That being said, the onus is on the administration to make sure that such barriers are curbed, and health care, which is a necessity, is provided in a fair manner.