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The current COVID-19 public health crisis has converged with the racial and socioeconomic injustices that plague our society, highlighting vast differences in health care access. Though the U.S. spends more on health care than any other developed nation, access to critical preventive care remains particularly challenging for many racial and ethnic minority populations, as well as lower-income and rural Americans.

For many, visits to a specialist for a routine diagnostic exam represent a time-consuming and costly venture. As a result, many serious conditions go undiagnosed until they are advanced when treatment becomes more expensive and invasive, and outcomes are less favorable. In 2019 a record number of U.S. adults (33 percent) said they put off receiving medical care due to cost, according to Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare poll. In 2020, even more people are delaying specialist care during the pandemic.

It doesn’t have to be this way: People should not suffer needlessly from preventable diseases. For better health outcomes, early diagnosis and timely treatment for all – rather than only privileged subgroups – are key at both patient and population levels.