In a recent 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? Read on to learn about why healthcare inequities exist and learn what you can do to help yourself and your loved ones get the best care possible.
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 care and 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:
- Understanding Medical Information Is Harder Than Most Realize.
- 10 Tips for a Better Medical Appointment.
- Why Take Detailed Notes at Doctor Appointments?
- Should You Record Medical Appointments?
- How Can You Get the Best Healthcare? Actively Participate!
- 10 Tips to Communicate Better with Doctors.
Do your research.
Research 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.
- Visit the Zaggo Resource Center to find sites where you can research conditions and treatments.
- Read this post: Researching Clinical Trial Results.
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. Additionally, refer to these guidelines from Cleveland Clinic to understand what screenings you should have throughout your life. Note that recommendations for screenings occasionally change. For more information, read Do You Know What Kinds of Preventive Care You Need?
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.
Unfortunately, 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.
- Visit the Zaggo Resource Center for information on financial help with medical expenses and for financial help with prescription medications.
Read these blog posts to learn more:
- Reduce Your Healthcare Expenses?
- Are High Deductible Health Plans Keeping Patients From Getting Care?
- How to Save Money on Prescription Medications.