Access to quality health care is a key element of community health, with several important dimensions: the availability of health professionals across a spectrum of professions and locations; adequate individual and family resources, including health insurance, to pay for services; and transportation mobility options that allow individuals and families to get to provider facilities.
These aspects of access to care are especially critical for vulnerable populations — many of whom lack mobility, financial resources and health insurance coverage. For some, safety net clinics are the only access they have to health care. Access to health care can also be a geographic issue. In low-density, rural areas, in particular, the demand for health care professionals often exceeds supply.
The following issue briefs provide data on the status, characteristics and trends of key indicators of health access:
The data reveals some important regional concerns:
Access to health professionals remains a challenge in rural areas, and it may become even more challenging as the older adult population increases.
The health care industry currently accounts for more than 10 percent of the region's total workforce, and is the fastest growing economic sector since 2004. Health care is the only sector that did not pause in its growth during the recent recession. The region's ability to provide adequate access to health care in the coming years will depend, in part, on its ability to continue to train, attract and retain health professionals, especially those with critical skills.
Data is the most current available as of September 2017.
Produced by the Mid-America Regional Council for the REACH Healthcare Foundation | www.marc2.org/healthdata ©