Tackling the roadblocks to health care for men
Many men don’t like to go to the doctor. However, once they retire, they typically visit a provider as often as women, who tend to be more diligent with health care needs. The big gap in men’s health care is during working age, when men may prioritize work over health, and also when men are students or young people and think they don’t need a provider.
A 2021 Aflac Men’s Health Issues Survey reported 45% of men did not have an annual checkup in the last year. Common reasons include not being aware of health risks, not having a provider, a lack of trust in the medical system, and not wanting to hear bad news or be told what to do. There is also reluctance to spend the time to see a provider, belief that nothing is wrong, or that it’s better to “tough it out.” Additionally, 46% have postponed or avoided medical treatment in some form due to costs. Not having medical insurance can also make it more difficult to find proper medical care at a reasonable cost.
Those with low incomes, including African Americans and Hispanic Americans, remain at an increased risk of being uninsured in the United States. A 2019 Census Bureau Health Insurance Coverage Report states that coverage differs across race and Hispanic origin groups. The report states that 55.9% of non-Hispanic Black men used private health insurance, compared to 74.7% of non-Hispanic white men. Also in 2019, 10.1% of non-Hispanic Black men were uninsured, compared to 6.3% of non-Hispanic white men. Hispanics had the highest uninsured rates among all race and ethnic groups. In addition, distrust of the medical system to provide good care reveals the health disparities among men of color which further increases the barriers to seek medical care.
Steps to encourage all men to seek out health care start with education on the health risks for men, including hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and screenings are recommended after age 40. Finding help from a trusted health care professional can help decrease worry and stress about any potential medical issues. Taking the time to see a provider also has a financial benefit, as early detection can lead to less expensive medical treatment. And, there is help for those that are uninsured.
HopeHealth is a community health center that provides quality care to insured and non-insured individuals. As a federally qualified health center, we can accept patients regardless of their ability to pay. HopeHealth can offer reduced fees through a sliding fee scale and encourages men, as well as all adults and children, with or without insurance coverage, to consider becoming a patient with us.
As an African American, I am aware of the health disparities many Americans experience. It’s important to see each patient as an individual with their own unique set of needs. Taking the time to talk to patients, provide quality medical care, and find the resources to help them thrive is a vital part of the process for me as a health care provider.
Mr. David Deloe, a patient of mine at HopeHealth, is a retired welder and teacher. We talk about many things at medical visits, and he shared the experience of being homeless without medical insurance for a time when he was a young man.
“When you don’t have a provider and have no financial resources, emergency care is the fall back. But it’s a risk because if you can’t pay the bill, your credit reference is shot, making it harder to get out of the financial hole,” Deloe explains. “It’s not easy, but exploring resources such as financial education and monetary tools to stay on track, along with family and community support, can help men make their way out of poverty over time. Keeping up with your health is another important step, even when you’re young. My health care provider and I have a good relationship and this helps motivate me not to put off any symptoms I might be having and go see him.”
HopeHealth’s mission is to go the extra mile and address any barriers in care to treat the whole person. Instead of focusing on a specific symptom, providers and staff assist patients with determining the underlying causes of poor health. Sometimes, this is as simple as coordinating transportation or making referrals to other social service providers. Other times, it’s a quick referral to a HopeHealth specialty provider. This integrated approach to health care truly places the patient at the center of care – men included!
If you don’t have a provider, find one today and take charge of your health. For more information on becoming a patient at HopeHealth, call 843-667-9414 or visit us at hope-health.org.