New study: 56 million Americans lack access to basic medical care

Lack of Access to Preventive Care Experienced Across Income, Race, Geography and Insurance Status

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 16, 2007

Contact: Amy Simmons, NACHC, 202-296-1890
Sarah Belanger, Fenton Communications,
202-822-5200
Leslie Champlin, The Robert Graham Center
1-800-274-2237 ext. 5224

 

WASHINGTON, DC — Nearly one in five Americans don’t have ready access to a source of primary health care according to a new study released today by the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Robert Graham Center.

These 56 million Americans lack access to basic medical care because of a local shortage of primary health physicians. They come from all income levels, racial backgrounds and ethnic groups, and many of them do have insurance - but what unites them is the lack of a “health care home” to address basic health needs.

"One in five Americans is medically disenfranchised-a term we use in the report to reflect a growing population who have inadequate access to primary health care," said Robert L. Phillips, Jr., MD, MSPH, director of the Robert Graham Center, which conducts policy studies in family medicine and primary care. "Access to a medical home helps people live longer, better, and helps them avoid costlier care in emergency rooms and hospitals."

The report, ACCESS DENIED: A Look at America's Medically Disenfranchised, found that unmet health care needs are not just a consequence of being poor and uninsured. Even many Americans who are covered by heath insurance face a large and growing shortage of primary health care options.

Among the findings of ACCESS DENIED are:

Most Americans who don’t have access to a primary health care source actually do have health insurance.

52 percent of uninsured Americans are without a primary health care provider.

The percentage of uninsured Americans without a primary health care provider vary widely by state, from 18 percent of adults in Minnesota to 60 percent in Texas.

21 states have over one million people who do not have access to a primary health care provider and are "medically disenfranchised."

At least two in five residents in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah have inadequate access to basic health care.

"No matter where they live - in rural pockets of America’s farm land, in urban neighborhoods, or in suburban developments - the health needs of medically disenfranchised Americans are going unmet," said Dan Hawkins, Vice President for Policy at NACHC. "Providing more Americans with access to primary health care is critical, and further investment in Community Health Centers will ensure that millions more Americans can gain a health care home."

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) represents the nation’s health safety net: over 1,000 Community Health Centers, serving 16 million people at over 5000 sites located throughout all 50 states and U.S. territories. Community Health Centers provide health care to low-income and medically underserved Americans, and they never turn anyone away - regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. They are local, non-profit, community-owned and federally funded.

The Robert Graham Center conducts research and analysis that brings a family medicine perspective to health policy deliberations in Washington. Founded in 1999, the Center is an independent research unit working under the personnel and financial policies of the American Academy of Family Physicians. For more information, please visit www.graham-center.org .

For a copy of the report ACCESS DENIED: a Look at America's Medically Disenfranchised visit www.nachc.com(www.nachc.com) or contact Amy Simmons at: 202-296-1890.

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March 16, 2007