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What is access?

Access is the ability to obtain needed medical care.

Access is the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcome. [1]

It requires three distinct steps:

  1. Gaining entry into the health care system.
  2. Accessing a health care location where needed services are provided.
  3. Finding a health care provider with whom the patient can communicate and trust.

Access to care is often affected by the availability of insurance, the cost of the care, and the geographic location of providers.[2]


  1. Kaiser Family Foundation
  2. HealthyPeople 2020