Insured and Uninsured
More than half of uninsured people are not aware of lower-priced health care providers in their area, a study in Health Services Research found.
The authors found that 47.5% of respondents were aware of lower-priced health care providers in their communities. In addition, the study found that 29% of uninsured people without a regular care source knew of a lower-priced provider. The researchers also found that among people with a regular provider, more than half do not receive care at a lower price based on what they can afford to pay.
The authors called on policymakers to consider whether care is affordable to the uninsured, writing that fear of incurring high costs dissuades many uninsured people from seeking care (Cunningham et al., Health Services Research, February 2007).
The location of safety-net providers is a key consideration for uninsured people living in rural areas, a study in Health Services Research found.
Among the rural uninsured, the study found that ready access to physicians reduced the number of emergency department visits. The authors noted that high rates of ED usage among the rural uninsured also could result in more physician visits, likely because of referrals for follow-up care.
Among the urban uninsured population, the study found that a high penetration of managed care, specifically HMOs, decreased use of physician services, possibly because services from other health care providers are more readily available. Urban areas with a high uninsured population also had fewer ED visits, according to the study.
The study found that making transportation to safety-net providers more widely available would increase utilization of care among the rural uninsured, as would increasing the number of safety-net providers. For the urban uninsured, the study concluded that increasing funding and the capacity of safety-net providers would help the uninsured obtain care (Gresenz, Health Services Research, February 2007).