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Access To Healthcare Resources; Is It Meeting The Needs Of Tuolumne County?

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Sonora, CA — Access to healthcare resources is the third installment in our nine week, 26 part series summarizing the 2008 Tuolumne County Profile – Community Indicators Project.

Why is this important?

If health care resources are present in a community but only available to a select population with health insurance, then there is a problem with access to care. This measure is a critical way to determine if there is a disparity in the distribution and utilization of standard health care resources.

What is the measure?

The distribution of public and private health insurance and the number of uninsured reflects overall quality of health.15 In addition, hospitalization for certain health conditions, like diabetes, asthma and congestive heart failure (fluid retention due to a weak heart, also known as CHF), increases when people with these conditions have limited access to outpatient clinic care.16

How are we doing?

Private insurance coverage increased in Tuolumne County for persons 18 to 64 years of age while the number of people receiving Medi-Cal decreased. Approximately 3% fewer people were uninsured. Fewer than half of all health care providers treat Medi-Cal patients. The decrease in Medi-Cal coverage is probably due to stricter eligibility requirements. But, it is encouraging that the number of uninsured people decreased.

The uninsured rate is 12.5% for the overall population under 65 years of age. Approximately 20% of the Tuolumne County population is without insurance coverage for at least a portion of each year.

Hospitalizations for CHF (congestive heart failure) are decreasing steadily. However, hospitalizations for diabetes are increasing – possibly due to increasing incidence of the disease. Asthma hospitalizations in Tuolumne County are below the state average, but hospitalizations for diabetes and CHF are above average compared to the rest of California. This suggests room for improved access to outpatient care.

Click Community Indicators Project for the entire 2008 Tuolumne County Profile.

Written by Bill Johnson