Health Care Access in Whatcom County

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded health insurance access in Whatcom County, the focus is now shifting towards improving systems for those with complex needs and expanding health care access to rural communities. This includes supporting individuals with chronic conditions, mental health challenges, or other challenges that require ongoing care coordination.

Data caption: Seeking care in the right place is essential.  High hospital admissions for issues treatable in a doctor’s office can indicate limited access to regular care.  This might mean people rely on emergency rooms or urgent care instead of having a regular doctor.  Preventable hospital stays are a metric used to assess the quality of care and how easily people can access the healthcare they need. In Whatcom County, Indigenous community members are more likely to have a preventable hospital stay, as are community members 85 years and over.

Data caption: Children who don’t have health insurance are less likely to see a primary care doctor, dentist, or eye doctor regularly or have a doctor who knows their medical history. This means they might not get the vaccines they need, miss out on preventative care, and have worse health overall. Not having insurance can worsen health disparities between kids. Access to health insurance ensures that all children have the same opportunity for healthy development, good health, and well-being.

Data caption: Prenatal care is crucial in ensuring the health and well-being of both the mother and the developing baby throughout pregnancy. Regular check-ups enable healthcare providers to monitor the progress of the pregnancy, identify any potential complications early on, and ensure the right supports are in place to optimize health outcomes for parents and their babies. By receiving proper prenatal care, expectant parents can reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, leading to healthier pregnancies and improved outcomes for both parent and child.

Data caption: School-Based Health Centers can play a vital role in supporting students in graduating on time. Education level is one of the most important indicators for overall health and well-being. High school graduation is associated with better jobs, higher earnings, and fewer chronic health conditions. Studies show a link between improved health and academic achievement.

Dashboards were developed in collaboration with the Whatcom County Health and Community Services data team. For even more Whatcom County data, visit