Children, people with HIV, and the homeless fall under the class of special populations. Their special nature emanates from the vulnerable nature that they demonstrate in relation to healthcare and access to social amenities. Access to healthcare is one of the major challenges among the special populations as compared to non-venerable individuals in society. Past research indicates that children, people with HIV, and the homeless have higher mortality rates, unlike their counterparts. The indication of the research informed the purpose of this essay, which discusses the barriers experienced by special populations and proposes ways that the governments can use to address the barriers.
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Barriers to Healthcare
Discrimination and Time Taken to Access Medical Attention
Some of the barriers that children and people with HIV face include discrimination, financial constraints, time taken before accessing healthcare, and stigma. Although small children may not understand the discrimination, caregivers usually experience the challenge each time they try to access healthcare. In several medical facilities, health care practitioners can demonstrate bias when providing medical services. The bias may follow the standpoints of race, religion, or gender, a factor that limits children’s access to healthcare. Another barrier that discourages individuals from visiting healthcare centers is the time taken before receiving services. According to research undertaken by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), several populations across the United States are reluctant to visit public facilities because of the long queues that characterize the centers (Hwang & Henderson, 2010). It is imperative to note that the populations that are reluctant to visit public hospitals include caregivers who want their children to acquire medical services as well as people with HIV.
Stigma and Financial Constraints
Stigma is a barrier that people with HIV face when they visit medical centers. While some patients that have the ailment are willing to share their experiences with the practitioners, patients who acquired the disease recently are unwilling. The reluctance demonstrated by newly diagnosed patients is an indication that they are suffering from internal stigma and are yet to accept the new status. According to Reif et al. (2015), society can at times demonstrate some level of discrimination based on the ailment. The expression of society is an external stigma and affects all people with HIV. Whether the stigma is internal or external, the overall impact is limited access to healthcare because it limits the extent to which individuals are willing to visit medical facilities and share their experiences.
Financial constraint is a barrier that affects the homeless populations around the United States and globally. Research executed by Deutsch and Fortin (2015) indicates that almost half of the populations in the United States that comprise men, women, youth, and children, do not have medical insurance. The fact that a large number of homeless [populations do not have a medical over implies that the quality of healthcare that they receive depends on their financial ability, a phenomenon that cripples their access to medical services. The outcome of limited access is an increase in the rate of deaths among the homeless populations.
Addressing the Barriers
Providing Universal Medical Cover
To address the aforementioned barriers, governments need to provide universal insurance cover to their population. By providing a universal cover to all individuals, the barrier of financial constraint that affects the special populations across parts of the world reduces. Moreover, individuals get the opportunity to visit healthcare facilities and acquire medical attention without worrying about their financial abilities. By introducing a medical cover that insures all individuals, financial constraint, which is one of the leading barriers to healthcare, diminishes. Hwang and Henderson (2010) use the impact that universal medical cover has had in places such as the United Kingdom where the rate of people who cannot access healthcare has reduced. Therefore, universal medical insurance is one of the ways that can be useful in addressing barriers that hamper access to healthcare.
Education and Introduction of Legal Sanctions
Apparently, the stigma and discrimination subjected to victims suffering from HIV, homeless populations, and children is an outcome associated with limited education and awareness. Education of the society on the importance of living together and appreciating the differences evident among populations is one of the strategies that governments can use to address the barrier of stigma and discrimination. Awareness creation should be two-way in that it needs to involve the subjects and the perpetrators. When the strategy targets the subjects, issues related to internal stigma decreases. On the other hand, when the strategy targets the larger society, perpetrators understand the harm that their acts have on the special populations and, in turn, refrain from the acts. Moreover, governments need to institute legal sanctions and impose fines, penalties, and jail terms on those who persist and continue engaging in acts that stigmatize or discriminate special populations.
Special populations need heightened medical attention due to their vulnerable nature. Governments need to provide favorable environments that enable special populations to access medical attention. In the same vein, governments need to understand the barriers that these populations encounter and look into the various ways that are useful in addressing them. Discrimination, long time taken to access medical services, financial challenges, stigma, and financial constraints are some of the barriers that special populations encounter in their quest to receive medical services. The essay proposes universal medical cover and education as strategies that can help to address the barriers.
Deutsch, S., & Fortin, K. (2015). Physical health problems and barriers to optimal health care among children in foster care. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 45(10), 286-291.
Hwang, S., & Henderson, M. (2010). Health care utilization in homeless people: Translating research into policy and practice. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Working Paper, 1(10002), 1-73.
Reif, S., Pence, B., Hall, I., Hu, X., Whetten, K., & Wilson, E. (2015). HIV diagnoses, prevalence and outcomes in nine southern states. Journal of community health, 40(4), 642-651.