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J Health Hum Serv Adm. 2004 Fall;27(2):142-57.

The importance of public sector health care in an underserved population.

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  • 1School of Policy, Planning and Development, University of Southern California, USA.


California's employed Latinos are less likely to have private health insurance than most other segments of the US population and face a variety of other barriers to obtaining health care. To better understand the availability and adequacy of health services for these individuals, researchers analyzed data from a telephone survey of 1,000 randomly-selected, employed adults. Among all survey respondents, a significant percentage obtained their health care from sources fully or partially dependent on government financing. Among the uninsured (30.7 percent of the sample), a majority of those who had a regular source of care received services from publicly-supported providers. Dissatisfaction with care was infrequent (less than 5 percent of the total sample) and apparently no greater among those receiving care from public sources than among those served by private doctors. These findings underscore the importance of the public sector in providing health care for the underserved, the high quality of the services provided (or partially supported) by the public sector, and the seriousness of the consequences for the disadvantaged should public support for their healthcare diminish.

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