California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Physicians Find Ways To Treat Uninsured, Low-Income Residents

Physicians in California and other states increasingly are trying to find ways to provide care for low-income, uninsured individuals so that patients do not have to avoid seeking medical care, USA Today reports.

Numbers of Uninsured

California has more uninsured residents -- seven million -- than any other state, as well as one of the highest percentages of uninsured residents, according to USA Today.

According to Gallup, the rate of uninsured residents in California increased to more than one in five last year, while the national rate reached one in six. In Los Angeles County, the uninsured rate has reached nearly 30%.

Carol Lee -- president and CEO of the California Medical Association Foundation -- said, "All doctors are talking about is how more and more of the middle class is showing up uninsured in their offices."

Physicians' Response

Although many physician practices also are dealing with financial challenges, they are using a number of strategies to help patients.

For example, some doctors are:

  • Asking drug representatives to give more samples that can be distributed to patients;
  • Connecting patients with federally funded programs or charitable organizations that provide prescription drugs at a discounted price or at no cost;
  • Offering discounted or no-cost care; and
  • Providing advice to patients over the phone so they do not have to visit the physician's office in person.

The USA Today story was produced in collaboration with the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting. CHCF is the publisher of California Healthline (Kipling, USA Today, 9/13).

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