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Improving Access to Health Care for Uninsured Elderly Patients


Shalonda Horton, School of Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, 1700 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78701-1499. E-mail:


ABSTRACT The purpose of this article is to explore the barriers that the uninsured elderly population encounter when accessing health care in the United States. These barriers include, but are not limited to lack of transportation, insurance, or family support; the daunting complexity of the health care system; poverty; culture; poor patient-health care provider communications; race/ethnicity; and lack of health care professionals such as nurses and doctors with adequate geriatric preparation, or generalists who are undereducated in geriatrics. The number of health care professionals currently available to treat elderly persons in the United States is inadequate. The Federal government should take steps to develop solutions to improve access to health care and decrease health disparities for older adults. As a nation, we should be proactive in addressing these concerns instead of waiting for new barriers to arise that further limit access to health care for elderly patients and their families. In this article, we provide an assessment of the barriers that limit access to health care in the uninsured elderly population and suggest recommendations and possible solutions to eliminate or reduce these barriers.