Access to Care

Access to Medical Care

Many residents, particularly in rural counties, have limited access to a full complement of health professionals.

An important element of a community's health is the accessibility of quality health care for its residents.

One way to evaluate access to health care is to calculate the ratio of persons in a community to primary care physicians, dentists and mental health professionals. A lower number is better, indicating that each professional has fewer patients to serve and is thus more accessible.

Rural areas, as one might expect, have fewer health care professionals per capita than suburban and urban areas. Poor access in rural areas is compounded by relatively longer distances to travel and fewer transportation options. Urban areas in Wyandotte and Jackson counties have relatively robust availability of health professionals, many of whom are associated with large hospitals. Even with these larger numbers, vulnerable populations in urban areas may have difficulty accessing medical care.

It should be noted that most of the counties have accessibility ratios higher than the nation as a whole.




The distribution of safety net clinics closely coincides with the distribution of those in poverty, except for southwest Jackson County.

Safety net clinics are a critical resource for medically vulnerable populations. The region's 30 safety net clinics are concentrated in the urban core. As vulnerable populations disperse to suburban communities, this may make access to safety net care more difficult. Comparing safety net clinic locations to populations in poverty (see map) indicates that in most cases the safety net clinics are located close to those in need. One area that appears to have a high concentration of poverty but no safety net clinic is southwest Jackson County.

Safety net clinics have seen a significant increase in patients between 2011 and 2014.

In 2014, safety net clinics reported a total of 117,600 patients (although some of these patients may be duplicated among different clinics).2

This is an increase of over 25 percent since 2011. This data was collected through the Kansas Association of the Medically Underserved, the Missouri Primary Care Association, the Kansas City Care Clinic, and Hope Family Care Clinic.Not all clinics reported patient visits, but those that did had 3.7 encounters for each patient. Applying this ratio to the clinics that did not report encounters provides an estimated total number of patient visits to safety net clinics in the region of 435,225.

Data is the most current available as of September 2017.

Produced by the Mid-America Regional Council for the REACH Healthcare Foundation | ©