Healthcare Access Barriers

Addressing Healthcare Access Disparities: Challenges and Solutions

Access to affordable and quality healthcare remains a critical issue worldwide. This article examines the interconnectedness between economic development, healthcare, and the alarming disparities in healthcare access and affordability. It also explores the shortage of trained healthcare professionals and the impact of the brain drain phenomenon. By shedding light on these challenges, we can work towards finding sustainable solutions for a more equitable healthcare system.

Global Healthcare Disparities and Catastrophic Spending

According to The Economist’s 2017 Global Access to Healthcare report, good population health is closely tied to economic development and wealth. However, despite the right to healthcare being guaranteed in law, it often remains inaccessible, especially in remote or underdeveloped regions. The World Health Organization’s study revealed that more than half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services. This calls for urgent action to bridge the healthcare gap and ensure universal coverage.

Healthcare costs can have devastating effects on individuals and families, pushing them into extreme poverty. Approximately 800 million people worldwide spend over 10 percent of their household budget on healthcare. Shockingly, nearly 100 million people fall into extreme poverty due to health expenses.[1] The problem of catastrophic spending is particularly acute in Asia, where it affects 77 percent of those at risk, despite accounting for only 66 percent of the global population. This disparity is unacceptable and demands immediate attention.

Healthcare Challenges in the United States

Healthcare affordability is not limited to poorer countries; even developed nations like the United States face significant challenges. More than half a million American families declare bankruptcy annually due to overwhelming medical bills. From 2013 to 2016, two-thirds of those who filed for bankruptcy cited medical issues as the cause. This alarming trend highlights the vulnerability of individuals and families in the face of healthcare expenses and the urgent need for comprehensive reform.[2]

Despite the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, the number of Americans without health insurance has grown significantly.[3] A U.S. Census Bureau survey conducted in 2018 revealed that over 27 million people lacked coverage. The highest uninsured rates were observed among Hispanic and foreign-born adults. This concerning trend emphasizes the importance of ensuring access to affordable healthcare for all individuals, regardless of their background.

The Shortage of Healthcare Professionals

The shortage of trained healthcare professionals exacerbates the global healthcare crisis.[4] The 15 countries with the lowest doctor-per-capita rates are all in Africa, with Liberia leading the list at just ten doctors per million people.[5] In stark contrast, countries like the United States, Canada, and the U.K. have approximately 3,000 doctors per million.[6] It is crucial to address this shortage to ensure access to quality healthcare services for all.

Poorer countries face the additional challenge of losing trained medical professionals to wealthier nations. African countries, for instance, have lost around $2.6 billion dollars invested in training doctors who now reside in Western countries.[7] The impact of the brain drain is staggering, with 25 to 50 percent of African-born doctors practicing overseas. This trend poses significant implications for healthcare systems in low-income countries and necessitates collaborative efforts to address the underlying causes and retain talent.[8]

Healthcare disparities demand our immediate attention and concerted efforts. By advocating for universal health coverage, affordable care, an adequate healthcare workforce, and addressing the brain drain, we can foster a more equitable healthcare system. You have the power to make a difference. Support GFA World’s Medical Ministry by sponsoring medical camps and help break down the barriers to healthcare access. Together, let’s provide free checkups, treatments, medications, and health education to vulnerable communities. Join us in supporting GFA’s Medical Ministry and be a champion for accessible healthcare for all.

Learn more about healthcare access barriers

[1] Tracking universal health coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report. World Health Organization/The World Bank. December 2017.
[2] Medical bankruptcy is killing the American middle class. Safehaven. February 14, 2019.
[3] Goldstein, Amy; Long, Heather. More Americans go without health coverage despite strong economy, Census Bureau finds. The Washington Post. February 14, 2019.
[4] Public Spending on Health: A Closer Look at Global Trends. World Health Organization. Accessed November 22, 2019.
[5] 25 Countries With Limited Access to Health Care. World Atlas. Accessed November 22, 2019.
[6] GBD 2017: a fragile world. The Lancet. November 10, 2018.
[7] 25 Countries With Limited Access to Health Care. World Atlas. Accessed November 22, 2019.
[8] Khan, Mishal S.; Hashmani, Farah N. Political and technical barriers to improving quality of health care. The Lancet. November 17, 2018.