Episode: Healthcare: Facing Barriers

Original Airdate: 
October 2007

For every Utahn, for every American, there is a stark question: "Do I have a right to healthcare?" KUED addresses that question and looks at the barriers to healthcare in a new hour-long documentary by Nancy Green. Every year 18,000 people die from diseases that could be prevented or cured, simply because they do not have access to the health care system. In Utah, an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people are uninsured. That's roughly twice the population of Salt Lake City. In addition to financial barriers, are cultural, language and geographic barriers.

Another barrier to health care is a lack of appropriate resource information. Although resources and financial barriers exist, community groups, health insurers and governments program strive to assist those who slip through the net. Government, non-profit, foundation and corporate organizations have programs that can assist in meeting the immediate service need and support the patient and family in finding additional help.

An estimated one in four Utahns cannot get healthcare due to access barriers.  The biggest barrier to care is financial.  People can’t afford the high cost of insurance, or medical care.  But even if everyone could afford it, there would still be problems obtaining care.   Geographic barriers are common in rural areas where people can live hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital.  Even in urban areas, location plays a part when transportation is difficult.  Having different cultural beliefs about medicine and health can also create difficulties when trying to obtain care.  Speaking a different language than your healthcare provider can also create huge challenges.  Fortunately, there are programs and services to help people overcome access barriers.  Utah’s Safety Net is a collection of State, Private, and Federal programs, clinics, and providers that serve medically vulnerable populations. But the Safety Net is porous, and plenty of people still find themselves without care.  They fall through the holes in the system.

Over the last year, a lot of attention has been placed on finding solutions to the Healthcare crisis both locally and nationally. Questions abound about how to create a system that is accessible to all, focuses on prevention and education, keeps costs down, and promotes individual responsibility. The answers range from government controlled single payer systems, to market controlled systems, and a myriad of solutions somewhere in between. You can get involved in shaping a solution. Locally, the United Way of Salt Lake has a proposal created by a consortium of business leaders, doctors, hospitals, consumer advocates, and insurers. The United Way is looking for public feedback about the proposal, which will be presented to the Utah State Legislature for consideration. We have listed some of the local and national proposals on this website, as well as links to contact your state and national legislative representatives. Read about issues. Become informed. Because one thing is clear. It is your voice that will make a difference in this debate.

"These problems are real. They are especially real for people who don't have access to care; the people who have chronic disease, the people who are literally dying because they haven't got access to a world-class system. We've got to find a way to pay for that. If we really, really understood the stakes for all of us--financially, morally, and the public health standpoint, I think we'd all want to do our part to go forth. There's a quote I like from Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said, 'What lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.' I hope he's right."

--John Nelson, former President of the American Medical Association

"Healthcare: Facing Barriers" is funded in part by: George & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Utah Medical Association Foundation, and the Lawrence T. Dee - Janet T. Dee Foundation.

Length: 
1 hour
Appears On: