This study compares the volume of uncompensated care provided to the uninsured poor in cities with public hospitals to that provided in cities without a public hospital in order to determine whether public hospitals increase access to care. Multiple regression analysis is used to control for selected variables that also influence utilization of hospital care. Cities with public hospitals were found to provide between 31 and 34 uncompensated adjusted admissions per 100 uninsured poor; in cities without a public hospital, 24 such admissions were provided. In the regression analysis the coefficients for dummy variables representing three types of public hospital governance structures were all positive and statistically significant. The coefficient measuring teaching commitment among a city's hospitals was also positive and statistically significant. This analysis suggests that local tax support for public hospitals does not merely offset philanthropic or other revenue sources for voluntary hospital uncompensated care but is also likely to increase the amount of uncompensated care offered. We also find that public hospital closures may reduce access to care for the uninsured poor in large cities.

You do not currently have access to this content.