Despite the variety of health care options offed to the public, a majority of homeless people find that their medical needs are going unmet. There is a large collection of services that are categorized as health care. These include things as basic as having a regular primary care giver to things as specific as dental needs or having the opportunity to seek help from a specialist if necessary. Whether or not medical needs are being met is qualified by how a “need” is defined. In a study of the homeless population in the New England region, participants were asked “Have you needed to see a doctor or a nurse in the past 12 months but were not able?” (Hwang, Stephen, Ueng, Joanna, Chiu, Shirley & Tolomiczenko, George, 2010, p.1455). If participants answered yes,...
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All studies seem to come to the same general conclusion: public health programs for the homeless are not as effective as they could be. Whether it is inadequacy in the type of service that is provided or a lack of outreach by the programs, a majority of people are not receiving the care they need. Instead of criticizing homeless people for crowding the emergency rooms consider the fact that they typically do not have an easily accessible alternative for medical care. Systems like the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program have spent the past decades building a public health program that now has helped find insurance for 76% of patients who come through (Oppenheimer et al., 2010, p.1401). It is important that cities all across the United States begin programs that will improve and eventually eliminate health care inaccessibility for the homeless.
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