Accessible medical care can change lives as well as save lives. In Virginia, one charity helps patients receive the care they need, even if they don’t have the ability to pay, which equates to healthier, happier lives.

One Virginia Beach resident, Joe Wahaba, received bridgework to repair his front teeth, a procedure which he said left him more confident and better able to eat. Though this dental work was no doubt necessary and important, Wahaba wouldn’t have been able to afford it without the help of Access Partnership — his insurance wouldn’t cover the procedure and, as other medical conditions prevented him from working, covering it independently would have been impossible for his family.

Wahaba is only one of many Virginia residents who have received vital medical assistance through Access Partnership, which was established in response to community need for better access to basic and specialty healthcare, dental healthcare and mental health services. The organization serves the community by connecting low income, under-insured and vulnerable populations with affordable and donated medical care and equipment.

To help keep Access Partnership running, medical professionals and other individuals donate their time and money to serve the community, which is important considering the increasingly serious need for accessible medical services in Virginia and across the United States.

The Importance of Accessible Healthcare

Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reduced the number of uninsured Americans, many people still remain uninsured or under-insured due to enrollment costs, limited coverage and high deductibles. Facing financial barriers, many Americans delay medical care until it is absolutely necessary, leading to more emergency room visits and subsequently higher medical bills.

The fact that individuals living at or below the poverty line are most likely to be uninsured only compounds the problem. A lack of preventative care leads to more preventable medical emergencies, which rack up medical bills and lead to further financial troubles. Put simply, this means lack of access to affordable healthcare can trap people in poverty.

Dental care is a great example of how cost barriers can lead to catastrophic health outcomes. Under the ACA, dental care is not considered an “essential health benefit,” which means it is under states’ discretion to include or not include it in adult Medicaid benefits.

When patients lack dental insurance, they are less likely to seek preventative care, such as routine teeth cleaning and oral health screenings. However, neglecting preventative care is what leads to negative outcomes down the line. Life-threatening conditions like oral cancers are easily treatable, but all too often they aren’t diagnosed until they have progressed irreversibly.

In the long run, lack of affordable preventative care leads to more serious procedures, the high costs of which are often footed by taxpayers and insurance customers. So, it’s in everyone’s best interests to increase access to medical services.

Providing Care to Those Who Need It Most

By aiding people who otherwise might not be able to afford healthcare services, Access Partnership fills a significant need in its community, providing a model for other organizations around the country.

In lower income communities across the U.S., non-profit hospitals and healthcare providers have been closing down, making it increasingly difficult for poor citizens to receive the care they need. Charity organizations like Access Partnership are in some cases having to fill in for those providers by connecting patients with non-local doctors who are willing to volunteer their services.

In a healthcare landscape increasingly dominated by profit-driven healthcare organizations, the assistance provided by charities is a huge help. Through Access Partnership and similar organizations, patients are able to receive more affordable preventative care, dental care, prescriptions, medical equipment and mental health services, all of which are important to low-income communities.

By making care accessible, charities like Access Partnership save lives and help communities grow and become more prosperous. But they can’t do this important work alone. They are sustained through generous donations and the hard work of their volunteers. If you’re interested in furthering the work of this charity, you can read more about Access Partnership and discover what you can do to help make care more accessible.

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About Author

Kate Harveston covers social justice and human rights issues. She graduated with a Bachelors in English and minored in Criminal Justice, so she enjoys writing about anything related to the intersections of law, politics and culture. For more of her writing, you can visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

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