Exploring Texas’ availability of health care: Strategic Framework

This look at health care availability in Texas is part of our blog series for Texas 2036’s Strategic Framework, which provides in-depth, cross-cutting data to inform key decisions about the most significant issues facing the state.

Rising health care costs and availability are a concern in Texas’ future. This is why a primary goal of Texas 2036 is to improve Texan’s access to health care. 

Goal No. 7 of our Strategic Framework works to ensure patients throughout the state have access to a variety of quality care options, as Texas currently last among all peer states in the percentage of residents with a regular source of care. 

In particular, according to an Episcopal Health Foundation Texas Health Policy Poll in 2021, only 71% of responders had a regular source of medical care when they were sick or needed medical advice. Access to a regular source of care differed by race/ethnicity as well as economic, immigration and insured status. Individuals who did not have a regular source of care were more likely to be:

  • Hispanic compared to Black and White populations;
  • Less than or equal to 250% below the federal poverty line;
  • Born in a foreign country; and,
  • Uninsured. 

Secondly, Texas also has a shortage of primary care, dental care, and mental health care providers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Professional Shortage Areas  designations are geographic areas and populations within the U.S. experiencing a shortage of health care professionals. One health care provider is needed to serve 3,000-3,500 people. In 2022, 1 out of every 4 Texans lived in one of these Health Professional Shortage Areas, as defined by KFF.

But the good news is, Texas 2036 has an opportunity to address these issues in the upcoming 88th Legislative Session to increase health care access.