Does Charity Care Suffer When Docs Earn Less Money?

Physicians who get most of their income from managed care spend less time caring for those without sufficient or any insurance coverage, suggests a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to the results, developed by the Center for Studying Health System Change, physicians who get less than 20 percent of their income from managed care payers spend, on average, 8-1/2 hours each month on charity care. On the other end of the scale, those whose reimbursement from managed care totals at least 85 percent average five hours a month.

While the report gives the impression that physicians whose income is squeezed under managed care choose to give less care to the uninsured, the authors suggested otherwise: "It is possible that physicians heavily involved with managed care plans see fewer underinsured patients."

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