Access to Care

Access to appropriate health care improves people’s health status and their quality of life. [6-10] People without adequate access to the care they need experience unmet health needs, delay receipt of needed care, and may be hospitalized for conditions that can be prevented with adequate outpatient care.  Many Americans, especially those who are low-income and racial and ethnic minorities, have inadequate access to care.  This dashboard tracks changes in access to generalist, specialist, and oral health care and assesses the adequacy of access by measuring the rate of preventable hospitalization. The national summary data for the measures that comprise this dashboard are presented below.

Percentage of People Who Have a Specific Source of Ongoing Medical Care

Having a usual source for medical care is a summary measure of adequate access to primary care.

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Percentage of People Who Reported Difficulty Seeing a Specialist

Many Americans need access to specialty care. This measure examines the extent to which those who need such care can receive it.

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Percentage of People who Used the Oral Care System in the Last 12 Months

Oral diseases, which range from cavities to oral cancer, cause pain and disability for millions of Americans each year. About half of all children and two thirds of low-income children have had tooth decay. Advanced gum disease affects up to twelve percent of adults; twenty five percent of adults over age 65 have no teeth; and over 7,500 deaths are from oral and throat cancer each year. Regular access to oral health care is critical to maintaining good oral health. This measure is a leading health indicator on Healthy People 2020. To review additional literature on this topic on PubMed, go here.

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Rate of Hospitalization for Ambulatory Care-Sensitive Conditions per 100,000 people as Defined by the Prevention Quality Indicator Composite for Adults (18+)

Inadequate access to outpatient primary and specialty care can lead to unnecessary hospitalizations. This measure describes the proportion of hospitalizations that are due to ambulatory care sensitive conditions; conditions that can be well managed in ambulatory settings.  These conditions include hypertension, angina, heart failure, diabetes, and asthma.

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Rate of Hospitalization for Ambulatory Care-Sensitive Conditions per 100,000 people as Defined by the Pediatric Quality Indicator Composite for Children (6-17)

Inadequate access to outpatient primary and specialty care can lead to unnecessary hospitalizations. This measure describes the proportion of hospitalizations among children that are due to ambulatory care sensitive conditions; conditions that can be well managed in ambulatory settings.  These conditions include asthma, diabetes, gastroenteritis, and urinary tract infections.

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