Availability of Safety Net Providers and Access to Care of Uninsured Persons

October 2004
Health Services Research , Vol. 39, No. 5
Jack Hadley, Peter J. Cunningham

Shorter distances to the nearest safety net provider increase access to care for the uninsured. Expanding the safety net-establishing new community health centers, opening new public hospitals and subsidizing more private hospitals that provide care to the uninsured-would increase the number of people that live near a safety net provider and, therefore, increase their access to care. However, the improvements in access by being closer to a safety net provider are relatively modest when comparing the uninsured to those with Medicaid or private insurance coverage. The results indicate that even when the uninsured live near a safety net provider, there are still considerable disparities in their access to care compared with people with insurance.

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