Identifying patient, community and program specific barriers to free specialty care utilization by uninsured patients in East Baltimore

Catherine Handy, Sai Ma, Lauren Block, Desiree de la Torre, Anne Langley, Barbara Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Uninsured individuals face multiple barriers to accessing specialty care. The Access Partnership (TAP) offers free specialty care and care coordination to qualified uninsured patients at an urban academic medical center for a small program entry fee (waived for financial hardship). In the program's first year, 104 eligible patients (31%) did not enroll. To understand why, we investigated demographic, referral, personal, and program-specific factors. After adjusting for age, gender, and ZIP code, diagnostic and therapeutic referrals were more likely to be completed than ancillary referrals (OR=8.56, p=.001; OR 3.53, p=.03). There was no difference between pain related and ancillary referrals (OR=2.80, p=.139). Eighteen patients were surveyed and reported program and patient-specific barriers. While removing costs is necessary to improve access to specialty care for underserved patients, it is insufficient. Improving communication from program coordinators and enrollment strategies may help to improve utilization of free care programs by the uninsured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-696
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2013



  • Academic medical center
  • Access to health care
  • Specialists
  • Uninsured

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this