HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Lack of Charity Care

CNN.Com reports on a study documenting a decline in doctor's providing charity care to patients.  The story states,

About three-quarters of physicians provided charity care in the mid-1990s, compared with about two-thirds now, according to a study released Thursday by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

The numbers have declined across all major specialties. The highest rate of free care, 78.8 percent, comes from surgeons, perhaps because many of these doctors treat uninsured patients in emergency rooms.

Just over 60 percent of pediatricians provided free care, the lowest rate among the specialties. That could be because children are more likely than adults to have insurance coverage.

I am sure that there are a number of reasons for this.  The article mentions the low reimbursement rates from the government and the decline in solo practicioners as two.  I am sure that there are some who fear malpractice liability as well as the fact that managed care often places time pressure on doctors to see as many patients (insured patients) as possible, leaving little time for the uninsured.   

On another note, CNN also hosts a video of a hospital dumping a patient on skid row.   It is rather shocking!.  [bm]

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