Health Care for the Uninsured: How Do the Uninsured Use the Rural Safety Net?
"Safety net" refers to the local arrangement of providers and institutions that provide care for the uninsured and those otherwise outside the traditional system of insurance, whether private or government-based. The number of uninsured and underinsured is growing at an alarming rate while the capacity of traditional safety net providers to meet growing needs is severely constrained. In many rural areas where there are few federally-funded safety net providers, the situation is worse in terms of unmet need and/or local provider fiscal burden. In this study, we are examining the safety net from the community perspective in two small rural towns in Alaska and Wyoming to describe how, where, and if the rural uninsured obtain health care and to characterize the process and difficulties involved in obtaining care. Surveys have been administered to generalist physicians in Alaska and Wyoming.
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