Physician office access for the uninsured: an observational study

Social Inequalities, Health and Health Care Delivery

ISBN: 978-0-76230-957-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-172-9

ISSN: 0275-4959

Publication date: 13 November 2002


Access for the uninsured for medical care has been studied retrospectively via interviews with the uninsured and by surveys of physicians concerning acceptance of uninsured patients. In this study we simulate the experiences of uninsured persons by calling primary care physician offices seeking appointments to treat current illnesses. Callers were instructed not to volunteer uninsurance status unless requested by office staff. We find that patients can get timely appointments over half the time, insurance information is requested around half the time, and that office staff knowledge of uninsurance status did not affect the probability of obtaining an appointment. Our findings agree with physician survey rates for acceptance of uninsured patients. Our findings demonstrate that medical appointments are likely available for the uninsured, even though the out of pocket costs may be burdensome or unaffordable. Nevertheless, many uninsured persons have incomes above hospital emergency room, charity care guidelines and would be far better off financially and medically to have a medical home.


Penner, M., Penner, S., Verkade, S. and Brooks, J. (2002), "Physician office access for the uninsured: an observational study", Jacobs Kronenfeld, J. (Ed.) Social Inequalities, Health and Health Care Delivery (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Vol. 20), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 219-234.

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Copyright © 2002, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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