Inadequate access to health care is a problem plaguing this nation's communities. In light of that fact, it was discouraging that no keynote speakers at the DNC or RNC managed to discuss this problem in a meaningful way in their speeches. Those at the DNC do get some credit for discussing the problem of inadequate health insurance coverage in the U.S., but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Where is the discussion of inadequate access to care, and the health disparities that follow from it, among our country's leaders?
Health Beat has started a series titled, "Americans Who Have Insurance — But Still No Access To Care." The first posting went up Tuesday, and discussed various problems plaguing the 56 million Americans that do not have regular access to health care. But it is important to note that this is not only a problem of people lacking health insurance - many of these 56 million Americans have insurance, but still do not have the access to care that they need.
The problem of inadequate access to care is even more evident in poor communities. The shortage of primary care physicians is most severe in those communities, and the effects are enormous. Health disparities in the U.S. still plague low-income areas, areas that are often populated largely by communities of color.
It is also important to note that this inadequate access to care is not only a problem for those seeking primary care. This week's Kaiser Health Disparities Report links to a study that shows minority single women and teenagers are less likely than others to receive proper prenatal care:
The task force report, based on data from 1990 to 2004, found that across all racial and ethnic groups, uninsured women had the lowest rate of trimester prenatal care at 73% and that women with private insurance had the highest rate at 96%. The overall average for prenatal care was 89%.
When these individuals do not have access to prenatal care, their children become subject to a host of potential health problems early in life, including ones as severe as infant mortality:
The task force recommended increased preconception health awareness, promotion of equity in birth outcomes and assurance of availability of early prenatal services for women living in areas with hospital closures or reductions in obstetrical services.
The Kaiser report also links to a study examining the causes of massive rates of obesity in Native American communities. The problems are most severe among youths:
Forty-three percent of boys and 39% of girls were considered overweight, according to the study.
Without access to health care, parents cannot teach their children about proper nutrition and dieting. Therefore, this cycle of bad health continues generation after generation.
We need our political leaders to talk about this issues if we want anything done. The conventions were a missed opportunity for both parties, but it wasn't the only one that will appear in this election cycle. Hopefully, next time we can expect more.