Full disclosure of financial costs and options to patients: The roles of race, age, health insurance, and usual source for care

Thomas P. O'Toole, Jose J. Arbelaez, Bruce W. Dixon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    The objective was to identify factors associated with financial discussions and financial disclosure of medical costs within a low-income urban community. The method used was a cross-sectional community-based survey in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The survey was conducted door-to-door and at area food pantries. Two hundred and twenty six adults were interviewed. Overall, 76.1% reported having a usual source for care and 73.0% had health insurance. Thirty nine and four tenths percent reported having been asked about their ability to pay for health services; this was more common among African Americans (OR 5.2; 95% CI 1.73-15.84), those with no health insurance (OR 4.3; 95% CI 1.01-17.89), and those less than 45 years old (OR:2.9; 95% CI 1.03-8.28). Only 10.6% reported being told how much a health visit would cost. Overall, 30.1% reported their provider made payment allowances for medical bills, with white respondents 2.5 times more likely and those persons identifying an ambulatory site for care 2.6 times more likely to report this. Overall, 30.5% reported being referred to a collection agency for unpaid medical bills; this was 2.4 times more common among those individuals identifying a non-ambulatory usual site for care. Significant race and socio-economic disparities exist in discussions about and access to financial resources to pay for medical care. Expanding the availability of financial assistance is critical to improving access to health care.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)52-62
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
    Volume15
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Feb 2004

    Keywords

    • Age
    • Financial costs
    • Financial options
    • Health insurance
    • Race
    • Source of care

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Health Policy
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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