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HRSA-funded Health Centers Are an Important Source of Care and Reduce Unmet Needs in Primary Care Services.

  • Author(s): Pourat, Nadereh
  • Chen, Xiao
  • Lee, Christopher
  • Zhou, Weihao
  • Daniel, Marlon
  • Hoang, Hank
  • Sharma, Ravi
  • Sim, Hwa
  • Sripipatana, Alek
  • Nair, Suma
  • et al.
Abstract

BACKGROUND:Evidence indicates the unmet need for primary care services including medical, mental health, and dental care is greater among uninsured and Medicaid beneficiaries than privately insured individuals, many of whom use Health Resources and Services Administration-funded health centers (HRSA HCs). OBJECTIVE:We examined differences in rates of unmet need between low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients of HRSA HCs and safety-net clinics in general or private physicians. RESEARCH DESIGN:We used logistic regression models to compare the predicted probabilities of unmet need for uninsured and Medicaid individuals whose usual source of care is HRSA HCs versus clinics in general or private physicians. SAMPLE:We used a nationally representative survey of low income, adult patients who identified HRSA HCs as their usual source of care. We used the National Health Interview Survey to independently identify low-income individuals whose usual source of care was clinics (National Health Interview Survey clinics) or physicians (National Health Interview Survey physicians) in the general population. MEASURES:Dependent variables were unmet need and delay in medical care, and unmet need for prescription medications, mental health, and dental care. The primary independent variable of interest was the usual source of care. We controlled for potential confounders. RESULTS:We found the probability of unmet need for medical and dental care to be lower among HRSA HC patients than individuals whose usual source of care were not HRSA HCs. CONCLUSIONS:HRSA HC patients have lower probabilities of unmet need for medical and dental care. This is likely because HRSA HCs provide accessible, affordable, and comprehensive primary care services. Expanding capacity of these organizations will help reduce unmet need and its consequences.

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