Provision and access to health care, not only in the United States, but also across the whole world has long been treated as civil right rather than a basic right (Reed, 1999). As a result, access to health care is denied to members of certain communities or groups on the basis of their color, ethnicity, or gender (Reed, 1999).
The ability to pay for medical expenses remains the key determining factor to the provision and access to health care. Even though health care facilities may not turn away patients in need of urgent treatment, all the other types of medical services are determined by the ability of an individual to cater for them (Barr, 2008).
All debates concerning health disparities among women, not only in the U.S health care context, but also globally, need to take into consideration the economic status of women as well as the role played by economy in their capacity to access medical care in addition to the quality of medical care services they are given.
The lack of preventative measure for women without medical insurance coverage results in a grave class disparity (Reed, 1999). Economic class is not the only cause of disparity among women as far as access to health care is concerned. Gender based discrimination is also rampant as far as women’s psychological and mental health is concerned (Barr, 2008).
Health care disparities are believed to have major impact on the quality of life in addition to mortality, suitability and quality of health care, the prevalence of certain illnesses, as well as on health outcome. It is upon then government to come up with health care policies that will effectively address the health care disparities among women.
As policymakers, both at federal and state level come up with policies aimed at addressing the numerous disparities existing in the health care system, they must incorporate health care reforms into these policies (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2000).
I agree that health care reforms is a major policy that will result in improved access to medical care for women in addition to alleviation of other disparities associated with the health care system. In order to reduce the economic factors that result in health care disparity among women, one of the major issues that need to be addressed is the high rate of insurance coverage.
Policies aimed at expanding affordable health insurance act as an effective measure of tackling the financial disparities that exist in the provision of health care to women. A large number of women who are uninsured and underinsured are highly likely to suffer from adverse consequences of untreated diseases as a result of lack of ability to cater for their medical expenses (Johnson and Johnson, 2009).
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2000) states that developing and implementing policies that will result in reduction of the rates of health insurance coverage will ensure that women have access to better quality health care. A health care system that offers affordable health insurance coverage for all, acts as a base on which strategies for alleviating inequitable distribution of health care resources are grounded (Johnson and Johnson, 2009).
If women have just access to health care insurance, they will have the capacity to seek timely care, including preventative care, an aspect that reduces the chances of medical problems becoming costly and complicated (Johnson and Johnson, 2009). In addition, in a system characterized by high quality health care coverage, health care facilities as well as health care providers are provided with equal incentives to provide medical services to all in a similar manner.
Women especially those living in the rural areas do not have access to health care due to few health care resources. Improvement of medical care infrastructure in medically underserved communities is another health care reform policy that would result in improvement of access to health care for women (Williams, 2007).
There is a need for development and implementation of a health care policy that directs resources in addition to incentives to the underserved areas. Development of a medical home is the other health care reform that can result in reduction of the disparities that exist in provision of health care among women (Shi and Singh, 2005).
Medical homes have one personal health care provider, who coordinates the health care of an individual. The personal health care provider is responsible for all the health needs of a patient. Private in addition to public health insurers have implemented health care home incentives as strategies through which provision of quality care to all can be achieved.
Medical homes improve women’s access to medical care across all sectors of life. Shi and Singh (2005) make it clear that addressing social and environmental determinants of health is the other factor that can effectively take care of social disparities that exist in the health care system. Disproportional access to various resources in a woman’s physical and social environment may negatively impact on her health.
Poor access to basic necessities such as housing, food, and clean water can all adversely affect the health outcome of women. Even though solutions to some of the social and environmental factors are beyond even the most competent health care system, plans for health care reforms should incorporate individual and community level interventions that tackle various social and environmental determinants of health among women (Williams, 2007).
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, (2000), Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparitiesin Health Care, retrieved on August 17, 2010 from http://www.ahrq.gov/research
Barr D., (2008), Health disparities in the United States: social class, race, ethnicity, and health, ISBN 0801888212: JHU Press, Johnson N., and Johnson L., (2009), The Care of the Uninsured in America, ISBN 0387783075:
Reed A., (1999), Women’s Healthcare Disparities and Discrimination, retrieved on August 17, 2010 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HSP/is_1_4/ai_66678569/ Shi L, and Singh D., (2005), Essentials of the United States health care system, ISBN 076373151X: Jones ; Bartlett Learning Williams R., (2007), Eliminating healthcare disparities in America: beyond the IOM report, ISBN 1934115428: Humana Press