From the LA Times:
American doctors, short of time and squeezed by hard-bargaining health plans, are less likely to see patients who can't pay than they were a decade ago, according to a study to be released today.
A survey by the national Center for Studying Health System Change found that about two-thirds of U.S. doctors provided "charity care" — down from three-fourths in 1996. The trend is alarming, the study authors said, because it comes as the number of uninsured or underinsured Americans is on the rise. The study also found that charity care received by people without insurance declined by nearly one-fifth over the decade.
"Here is more evidence that there is fraying in parts of the safety net," said Peter Cunningham, senior health researcher at the center and the study's lead author.
The decrease in charity care — service offered free or at reduced rates — was seen across all regions and specialties, the study said.
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