Why Isn’t Healthcare The Same for Everyone?

photo of male patient in a hospital bed speaking with a doctor

In last week’s post, I covered the differences in healthcare and health outcomes for people based on their gender, race, income and sexuality. Today’s post addresses the question: Why isn’t healthcare the same for everyone?

It’s a complicated problem.

Equality in healthcare is a complicated problem because there are many factors that influence the quality of care a patient receives as well as a patient’s overall health. Providing quality care that all patients can afford and easily access cannot be quickly or easily remedied. But any efforts are well worth it.

The information included below is a brief summary of a portion of the issues patients face in their efforts to receive high quality care and to remain healthy.

Access to care – Financial issues, language barriers, difficulty getting to appointments and a lack of a primary care doctor are a few of the reasons some patients struggle to access care.

Missed screenings – Patients who do not have regular screenings (cholesterol, mammograms, colonoscopies, etc) risk delays in diagnosis which can negatively impact outcomes. Barriers to screenings include financial concerns, difficulty getting to a doctor or hospital, lack of knowledge regarding recommended screenings and fear.

Cultural and ethnic differences – Doctors and hospitals do not always understand a patient’s cultural identity which can impact their ability to provide quality care.

How can you get the best care possible?

All patients deserve high quality healthcare. Knowledge is power. All patients, regardless of gender, race, income or sexuality, must take charge of their healthcare. The suggestions below can help you get the best outcome possible.

Be engaged in your care!

It is essential for all patients to be an engaged member of their medical team. Ask questions, take detailed notes and share them with all members of your medical team, pay attention to medication management, and most importantly, speak up when something doesn’t seem right,.

For more information on how to be engaged in your care, read these posts:

Do your research.

photo of women using laptop on tableResearch your diagnosis and treatment options, including clinical trials as appropriate. Bring the information you find to your doctor for discussion. If your doctor is not open to hearing what you have found, you might want to consider finding a new doctor who is open to these types of conversations.

Follow recommended guidelines for screenings.

Screenings can detect health issues in the early stages, allowing you to start treatment as soon as possible. Follow your doctor’s recommendations, even when it seems inconvenient or potentially painful. Refer to these guidelines from Cleveland Clinic to understand what screenings you should have throughout your life. (Note – recommendations for screenings occasionally change.)

Ask about your unique needs.

It might seem odd or uncomfortable, but you should ask your doctor if your gender, ethnicity, income or sexual orientation can impact your diagnosis and treatment options. This is particularly important for women, since so much past research has focused on male biology.

Don’t let doctors assume it’s “all in your head”.

Don’t let a doctor push aside your concerns by telling you it’s all in your head. Although you might be dealing with an illness that has been caused by stress or other mental health issues, make sure doctors rule out all potential physical causes before assuming the cause is emotional. This might require you to find a new doctor who won’t quickly dismiss your problems as emotional.

Read this blog post to learn more:

Address your financial concerns.

photo of a pile of US 10 dollar billsUnfortunately, financial concerns keep many patients from getting the care they need. If you struggle to keep up with medical expenses, there are resources available and steps you can take to minimize your out of pocket expenses.

Read these blog posts to learn more:

One Response to Why Isn’t Healthcare The Same for Everyone?

  1. Danny van Leeuwen June 12, 2018 at 10:57 am #

    Nice job. Good article. Tx

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