Why We Need the Safety Net

What is the Health Care Safety Net?

The Institute of Medicine defines the health care safety net as: “Those providers that organize and deliver a significant level of health care and other related services to uninsured, Medicaid, and other vulnerable populations” (IOM, America’s Health Care Safety Net: Intact but Endangered, 2000). The Institute of Medicine further defines “core safety net providers” as having: 1. “legal mandate or explicitly adopted mission, they maintain and ‘open door’ [policy], offering patients access to services regardless of their ability to pay;” and 2. a “substantial share of their patient mix [that] is uninsured, Medicaid, and [members of] other vulnerable populations.” (IOM) The National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH) adds that “they (the health care safety net) are distinguished by their commitment to provide access to care for people with limited or no access to health care due to their financial circumstances, insurance status, or health condition” (NAPH, What is a Safety Net Hospital?). Why do we need the Health Care Safety Net? Millions of Americans remain uninsured following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Some are exempt from the individual mandate and others find health insurance unaffordable and choose to pay a penalty. Kaiser Family Foundation reports low-income working families make up over 40% of the remaining uninsured.

Fact Sheet: - http://files.kff.org/attachment/fact-sheet-key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population


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