Access to Medical Care in North Central Texas: Examining the Impact of Income Level

The County Homeless Health Care Program in Texas helps low-income residents who don't qualify for other state or federal health care programs gain access to medical care. This analysis aims to provide a concrete measure of the distance between Americans and their nearest hospital in different types of communities in the United States. Without a measure of the quality and variety of care provided at each hospital, it is difficult to assess how access to hospitals translates into well-being. The official United States government website provides information on poverty levels in the United States.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) expands the official poverty measure by taking into account many of the government programs designed to help low-income families and individuals who are not included in the current official measure of poverty, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as stimulus payments and expansions of refundable tax credits enacted as part of economic aid legislation related to the pandemic of COVID-19. It should be noted that ARPA increased the value of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and made it fully refundable, meaning that more families could receive it. In addition, the SPM deducts from revenues the expenses necessary for critical goods and services. Expenses deducted include income and payroll taxes, child care, transportation expenses, contributions to the cost of health care and health insurance premiums, and child support paid to another household. The SPM allows us to examine the effects of government transfers on poverty estimates.

The SPM does not replace the official measure of poverty and is not used to determine eligibility for government programs. Regional estimates of income, poverty, and health insurance coverage are available in each respective report. There is also a table showing poverty rates at the state level using three-year averages. The American Community Survey (ACS) is subject to sampling and non-sampling errors.

All comparisons made here and in each respective report have been tested and determined to be statistically significant with a confidence level of 90%, unless otherwise indicated. If Central Texas were a state, it would be the 42nd largest in terms of area and the 43rd in terms of total population. Unlike other racial and ethnic minority groups in this country, Native Americans have legal rights to federal health care services. The County Homeless Health Care Program helps low-income Texas residents who don't qualify for other state or federal health care programs access health care services.

Disparities related to access and use of health care, as well as a higher prevalence of certain chronic diseases, are also present in the veteran population. Central Texas offers a variety of options for superior educational achievement, including four universities, six college and community colleges, and a health science school (see annex). This report examines regional economic information and trends with respect to population, personal income, jobs and salaries, and education, as well as economic conditions unique to Central Texas. The region's income distribution reveals that proportionately fewer households in the top quintile compared to Texas as a whole (figure).

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine examined increases in life expectancy in different income groups over time and found that while men in the top 60 percent of the income distribution increased in life expectancy at 50 years, women experienced losses in expected life expectancy at 50 years in the two lowest income quintiles and no progress in the third or fourth quintiles (NASEM, 201). By employment, the largest industrial sectors in Central Texas are education), restaurants and health services. However, findings suggest that other factors such as race, ethnicity, and income may play a greater role in shaping children's asthma risk than their physical environment (Keet et al.). These conditions have led to disparities in health and health care both in relation to the general population and among certain subpopulations of veterans.

These findings come amid a wave of rural hospital closures in recent years which has raised concerns about access to healthcare. The Texas Housing Affordability Index (THAI) from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center measures the ability of a household earning the average family income to purchase a middle-priced home. This article has examined how access to medical care differs between different income levels in North Central Texas. It has highlighted how government programs such as SNAP can help low-income families gain access to medical care services.

It has also discussed how disparities related to access and use of health care are present among certain subpopulations such as veterans. Finally, it has looked at how regional economic information can help us understand how access to medical care differs between different income levels.

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