How to increase access to health care?
As healthcare costs continue to rise, many patients are finding it increasingly difficult to afford the care they need.
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As healthcare costs continue to rise, many patients are finding it increasingly difficult to afford the care they need. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost one in four Americans report having trouble paying for their medical bills, and nearly half of all bankruptcies are caused by medical expenses. In light of these statistics, it is clear that there is a need for more options to increase healthcare access for those who can't afford it.
One solution that has gained traction in recent years is telemedicine, which allows patients to receive care remotely through video or phone consultations with healthcare providers. This can be especially beneficial for those who live in rural areas or have mobility issues, as it eliminates the need for them to travel to a doctor's office or hospital. Telemedicine can also be more convenient and cost-effective for patients, as they may not need to take time off work or pay for transportation.
Virtual care is another option that can help increase healthcare access for those who can't afford it. Virtual care refers to any type of healthcare service that is provided online or through a mobile device, such as apps or websites. This can include everything from virtual consultations with doctors or therapists to online prescription refills and appointment scheduling. Virtual care can be especially helpful for those who have limited access to healthcare providers in their area, as it allows them to connect with providers from anywhere.
Mobile devices are also playing a role in increasing healthcare access for those who can't afford it. Many healthcare providers are now using apps or other mobile tools to help patients manage their health, track their progress, and communicate with their providers. For example, some apps allow patients to track their vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate, and send the results to their doctors. Other apps allow patients to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and access their medical records from their phones or tablets.
Another innovative solution that has recently emerged is the online pharmacy called "Cost Plus," which was founded by entrepreneur Mark Cuban. Cost Plus offers a large discount on medications for patients who are uninsured or underinsured, making it easier for them to afford the medications they need. The pharmacy works by partnering with manufacturers to buy medications in bulk, which allows them to offer discounted prices to patients. In addition to offering discounted medications, Cost Plus also provides educational resources and support to help patients manage their conditions and stay healthy.
Finally, cash clinics are another option that can help increase healthcare access for those who can't afford it. Cash clinics are medical practices that offer care on a cash-only basis, without accepting insurance. This allows them to offer more affordable rates to patients, as they don't have to cover the costs of billing and processing insurance claims. Cash clinics can be a good option for those who don't have insurance or who have high deductibles, as they can pay for care directly without having to worry about meeting a deductible.
Overall, there are several options available to help increase healthcare access for those who can't afford it. Whether it's through telemedicine, virtual care, mobile devices, discounted medications, or cash clinics, there are ways to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for all. It is important that we continue to explore and support these options, as they can help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to receive the care they need to stay healthy and thrive.
(*) Physician and healthcare consultant, serial entrepreneur and leader. Author of ‘Chat GPT Healthcare.’
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