Report says accessibility of health care services can be a struggle in Florida

(The Center Square) — A new report says many people in Florida don’t receive needed health care because they lack easy access to adequate services.

Florida TaxWatch recently released its report, Social Determinants of Health: Health Care Access and Quality. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, social determinants of health are environmental factors that can impact individuals’ health outcomes.

These include health care access and quality; education access and quality; social and community context; neighborhood and built environment; and economic stability.

According to the report, these factors can majorly impact a person’s health, well-being and quality of life. The report notes that 80% of a person’s health is determined by social factors, while the remaining 20% results from receiving medical care.

In Florida, many people lack access to health care services, with the biggest barrier being the cost. In a 2019 survey of 1,200 Floridians, 55% had experienced health care cost burdens, while 78% worried they would not be able to afford health care in the future.

The report states Florida ranked 41st in 2021 for overall health care and access, which was attributed to the growing number of uninsured adults, rising insurance costs and policies that make health care less accessible. The report further notes that Florida has consistently ranked in the bottom 10 states for uninsured citizens.

Florida currently has a physician shortage and the report notes this plays a role in access to quality health care. With Florida’s population growing, especially in rural areas, the number of physicians in the Sunshine State is insufficient. By 2030, an additional 22,000 physicians are needed to bridge the gap.

The report notes that as of 2023, only 40% of Florida’s population has employer-sponsored health insurance, while the rate of uninsured Floridians was 11.2% in 2022 — higher than the national average of 8%. Also, in 2022, Florida ranked 46th in the nation for the uninsured population.

Compounding this are the 979,000 people who have been disenrolled from Medicaid, 460,000 of whom are children. Furthermore, access depends on where the person lives. In rural areas, there are roughly 1.3 physicians for every 1,000 people available in the U.S., while urban areas have around 3.1 physicians for every 1,000 people.