By Kevin O’Connor
Special to The SUN
A gentleman came to San Juan Basin Health Department (SJBHD) last year for help applying for health insurance. He limped noticeably and winced in discomfort with each step. As I offered him a chair, he told me that he needed surgery to repair an old injury. He had been in pain for several years.
It’s hard to believe that a person would go so long without treatment, but for many La Plata and Archuleta County residents, there are major barriers preventing access to health care.
In spring of 2012, an assessment of our community’s health needs identified one of this region’s biggest health issues as access to care. Barriers to care can include factors like transportation, language difficulties and lack of knowledge regarding how to get care. One of the most frequent barriers is the cost of treatment.
In 2013, around 10,000 of our La Plata County neighbors did not have any health insurance. For many of these people, coverage was not affordable. The problem cut across economic lines, with affordability an issue for a range of income brackets. Pre-existing conditions prevented many, those with higher incomes included, from accessing health insurance.