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A Growing Hole in the Safety Net: Physician Charity Care Declines Again

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Publication Date: March 2006

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Peter J. Cunningham; Jessica H. May

Series: Tracking Report No. 13

Topic: Health (Health services for low income people)

Type: Brief

Abstract:

Continuing a decade-long trend, the proportion of U.S. physicians providing charity care dropped to 68 percent in 2004-05 from 76 percent in 1996-97, according to a national study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). The ongoing decline in physician charity care is alarming given the increase in the number of uninsured people, particularly during the first half of the decade. Declines in charity care were observed across most major specialties, practice types, practice income levels and geographic regions. Increasing financial pressures and changes in practice arrangements may account in part for the continuing decrease in physician charity care.