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Access to Health

What is Access to Health?

Access to health means having access to a healthy lifestyle. This may include access to healthcare, a safe living environment, or healthy food. A healthy lifestyle and access to health can reduce health disparities and lead to a better quality of life.

Access to health may include access to:

Healthcare

smiling hispanic man eating a bowl of fruit

Access to healthcare is part of access to health. It includes access to:

  • Affordable health insurance or healthcare services
  • Healthcare providers, services, and treatment facilities
  • Timely care
  • Adequate medical facilities in rural areas
  • Health prevention, screening, education and counseling services
  • A culturally competent and culturally diverse healthcare workforce

Healthy food

Good nutrition is important for a healthy lifestyle. Access to healthy food includes convenient grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables, healthier foods at restaurants, and healthy school meals. Access to healthy food may also include having enough money for healthy food. (Unhealthy food tends to be less expensive.)

Physical activity

Access to health includes time, opportunity or places for recreation or physical activity. This may include access to parks, bike paths, safe outdoor areas and recreation facilities.

Health literacy and information

Health literacy is the ability to read, understand and act on health information. People need health literacy skills to understand how to:

  • Access and use healthcare services
  • Complete medical or financial assistance forms
  • Take medication or follow treatment instructions
  • Prevent disease or understand a diagnosis

Access to health literacy means that health information is written at an appropriate reading level, that healthcare providers check patient understanding, and that help or translation services are provided if needed.

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Safe and healthy physical environments

Access to health also means having safe places to live and work. Safe and healthy physical environments may include:

  • Homes and workplaces that meet building code and occupational health and safety standards
  • Neighborhoods with low rates of crime and violence
  • Police and fire protection
  • Convenient public transportation
  • Protected natural resources
  • Regulated standards for air pollution, drinking water, hazardous waste disposal, or unsafe areas

Thinking Points

  • Are there other things that come to mind when you think of access to health?

Now that we have seen what access to health may look like, let’s see what we can do to improve access to health. >>

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