DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Karen Slone, a 53-year-old diabetic living in Arizona, noticed a sore developing on her foot. But without health insurance, she put off going to the doctor, treating it at home with Neosporin and Band-Aids. When she finally went to the emergency room, reports the Los Angeles Times, her wound was infected. Surgeons removed bones in two toes.
Slone isn’t alone in her trouble accessing care. In the first
quarter of 2015, even after the Affordable Care Act took effect, about 12
percent of the U.S. population didn’t have insurance
. And uninsurance is
just one of many factors that hamper access to care in the US and around the
world — distance to health facilities, language barriers, exorbitant costs, and
the complexity of the health system can make it difficult for people to access
the care they need, causing needless suffering and soaring costs. For example,
in some low-income countries, people living in some rural areas can’t afford
transportation to health facilities, so they have to reach care on foot — even
when sick or pregnant.