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Charity care decreases, number of uninsured rises

Article-Charity care decreases, number of uninsured rises

Washington — A recently released study shows that the proportion of U.S. doctors doing charity care has decreased significantly over the past 10 years.

The national study, released last month by the Washington-based Center for Studying Health System Change, notes that 76 percent of physicians provided charity care in 1996-97, while 68 percent did in 2004-05 — a decrease of 8 percent.

The study notes that the drop comes as the number of Americans not covered by health insurance has mushroomed to more than 45.5 million. The study also notes that the amount of physician care relative to the number of uninsured has dropped: The number of charity-care hours per 100 uninsured people is slightly more than six currently; it was at nearly eight a decade ago—a decrease of 18 percent.

Ongoing financial pressures and changes in physician practice arrangements may well account for the decreases, the study concludes.

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