In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Access to Health Care

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Anthologies
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Definitions
  • Health and Health Care Disparities
  • Health Care Reform

Public Health Access to Health Care
Ronald Andersen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 09 September 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0001


“Access to health care,” along with the cost and quality of that care, is generally considered one of the three major indicators for evaluating the performance of a health-care system. Even though access is a major indicator of performance and a continuing problem for the US health-care system, it is often not clearly defined and its meaning has been changing over time. This entry will consider general overviews and key reference works on access, as well as textbooks, anthologies, and journals including sections on access to care. It will also provide references to definitions of access to health care, models of access to care based on different disciplines, the multiple dimensions of access in a comprehensive model, the role of access in understanding and attempting to reduce disparities in health and health care, and the importance of access in the recently passed Health Care Reform Bill in the United States and efforts to implement it.

General Overviews

These general overviews of access to health care provide contrasting international perspectives on the meaning of access (Gulliford and Martin 2003) and discuss improving access from a management perspective (Buss and Van de Water 2009), as well as special issues of access for low-income Americans (Lillie-Blanton, et al. 1999).

  • Gulliford, Martin, and Myfanwy Morgan, eds. 2003. Access to health care. New York: Routledge.

    Considers whether it is possible to offer universal and comprehensive services without waiting lists and unacceptable delays in treatment. Access to care is considered in an international context by means of contrasting health policies in the United States and European Union. Provides both health-care researchers and health professionals and managers with definitions of access and related issues for research and health policy.

  • Buss, Terry F., and Paul N. Van de Water. 2009. Expanding access to health care: A management approach. Transformational Trends in Governance and Democracy. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

    Analyzes challenges to management in expanding health coverage. Provides a practical guide to administrators, researchers, and students regarding administrative functions required to assure access to health coverage, how these functions are performed at present and under proposed alternatives, and lessons from experience in the United States and abroad.

  • Lillie-Blanton, Marsha, Rose Marie Martinez, Barbara Lyons, and Diane Rowland, eds. 1999. Access to health care: Promises and prospects for low-income Americans. Washington, DC: Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

    Emphasizes issues affecting access to health care for low-income Americans. Assesses the importance of expansions of health coverage for the poor, the challenges providers who serve low-income and uninsured populations face, and the effects of these changes on vulnerable populations. Available online.

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