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Community Health Improvement Plan - Access to Care

When originally considered, this focus area included “poverty”. The workgroup struggled with specifics around addressing poverty and felt instead that there was a greater chance of improving health outcomes by improving tangible “access to care” for those living in poverty as opposed to a futile attempt at  influencing the complex issue of social economics. As such, the focus of this group is specifically related to “access to care” issues. Without health insurance, or a financially acceptable alternative, many individuals find themselves forgoing needed preventative medical care. This delay in healthcare attention will often result in a much more costly trip to the emergency department or potential hospitalization. It is critical that we aim for the earliest entry into the healthcare system at the least expensive entry point.

As a primary measurement for this area, one should consider health insurance coverage and accessibility of appropriate health services based on the need. The 2010 Community Health Survey indicated that only 43% of respondents have employer provided health insurance, while 12% have private insurance, and 10% report no insurance of any type. Twenty-two percent of respondents reported that they had gone without healthcare over the past year due to no or inadequate insurance.  Only ½ of the respondents reported they were satisfied with the health care system.

The 2014 Comanche County Health Profile indicates that 16.5% of county residents are below the federal poverty level (FPL), while over 19.7% are uninsured.  For more results click the following link: 2014 Comanche County Health Profile.

The Local Public Health System Performance Assessment indicates that the local public health system is having trouble linking people to needed personal health services and assuring the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.  The local public health system is finding it challenging to assist vulnerable populations in accessing needed health services.

We have all heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Well, that is the clearest summation of this focus area— provide the earliest opportunity for a health intervention and avoid the costly outcomes of late entry into an overburdened system. Of the 5 priority areas, this may prove to be one of the more challenging, while at the same time, offering great rewards for our most vulnerable populations.

The Access to Care Work Group has two objectives:
Reduce the county’s uninsured rate to 15% or less by 2015.
Increase utilization of preventative health services resulting in a 10% decrease in preventable hospitalizations by 2015.

The group has seven strategies:
Strategy 1:  Increase financial assistance for medication
Strategy 2:  Increase awareness of local services
Strategy 3:  Enhance funding
Strategy 4:  Promote prevention
Strategy 5:  Promote agency collaboration
Strategy 6:  Expand healthcare services
Strategy 7:  Develop a communications/marketing plan

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