Availability of Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) is essential for preventative care and specialty referrals. In the US, 62 million Americans are estimated to have no or inadequate access to primary care. Access for those living in rural and low-income areas is especially challenging.
Studies have shown that access to primary care is associated with improved health outcomes and reduced health disparities. It is important to note, however, that PCPs are not the only providers of preventative and primary care not captured in this data.
45 million people in the US live in Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). In North Carolina, the average ratio of patients to dentists is 1,830 to 1. Three counties in the Triangle J region–Johnston, Chatham, and Lee counties–exceed this ratio. Cost and availability are two major barriers to dental treatment for many people. Untreated disease can lead to infection and tooth loss.
Mental Health Providers include psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, therapists, and other specialized providers. Mental Health America ranks North Carolina 36th in access to care, taking into account access to insurance and mental health treatment. Orange and Durham counties both rank in the 90th percentile nationally for mental health provider ratios, at just 330 and 460 patients per provider, respectively.