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Access to healthcare is critical. It helps prevent and manage disease, reduce premature deaths, and cut down on the amount of unnecessary disability. But why is it so important? Well, according to the Institute of Medicine, Committee on Monitoring Access to Personal Health Care Services  healthcare accessibility means “the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcomes.” There are three steps that coincide with access to health services: 

        • Access to the healthcare system (mostly though insurance coverage)
        • Locating a please where healthcare services are provided 
        • Finding a provider that the patent can trust and communicate with

The primary foundation of all of this starts with the “Five A’s of Access.” What are they? 

        • Affordability – Affordability has to do with what the patient is willing to pay, but more importantly what they are able to pay. Not everyone is able to pay off a healthcare bill right away. For some it takes months and is not seen as a priority like car bills or mortgages. In most cases affordability really boils down to if a person is insured and if they can afford to pay insurance premiums.
        • Availability – This is all about the amount of time it takes a patient to see a physician. For some it can take upwards of three months to a year for an annual exam. Availability also evaluates what the physician has in order to meet the needs of the patient; including but not limited to the amount personnel and technology available. 
        • Accessibility – How easy is it for the patient to reach their doctor’s office? The location of providers can vary greatly on where a patient is located. In some cases this can prevent patients from seeking out the care that they need. 
        • Accommodation – Does the provider meet the preferences of the patient and to what extent? This includes, when the provider is open, communication options, and how easy it is for a patient to get care without prior appointments.  
        • Acceptability – Is the provider able to give the best care without passing judgement? Some of the characteristics include sex, social class, age, and ethnicity of the patent, and the provider.  

Accessibility is a complex subject that has plenty of moving parts. From affordability or acceptability providers and patients alike need to work together to ensure the best care possible for all.