How would you go about improving access to healthcare in this country, especially to underserved communities?
Accessing healthcare in our country is limited to certain populations and expensive for most patients, thus leading to reduced patient compliance. One way to improve this situation is to fill in the income gap between physicians working in low-income areas and physicians working in well-known state of the art facilities. Exhibiting equality in salary for physicians would lead to extra free clinic days each month or rotate through all hospitals. This greater access to physicians on free clinic days or rotations within hospitals is beneficial for patients and the physicians. The patients could then have greater access to more affordable healthcare, thus, physicians will have opportunities to expand their network and gain more clinical experience through this method.
The other way to improve access to healthcare which goes hand in hand with decreasing the income gap between physicians would be increasing the number of free clinic days/normalizing income-based payments for patients. If hospitals/companies/sponsors could host free clinics one to two times a week in each community (two physicians, one physician assistant, and two nurses) they could see a vast amount of patients and treat them during their normal working hours. As a result, this would provide the opportunity for community members to receive treatment.
On the other hand, if patients are given an option to pay according to their income level, this may lead to an increase in patient compliance and ability to receive routine prescription refills. As I have heard numerous times from patients, “I could not afford the medication so I was unable to refill it” or “the visit was not covered by my insurance so I had to wait six months and by that time it can be too late in some severe cases”. These statements are too common among patients and it truly puts into perspective how much these patients are struggling economically if they are choosing to put their healthcare at the bottom of their priority list.
Healthcare needs to be more affordable and the only way to achieve that is with the help and assistance from the government, private companies, and action by the physicians.
California School of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2023