Uninsured in D.C. Better Off with Private, Not Public Insurance, Study Says

Study of the safety net health care system for indigent persons in Washington, D.C.

During 1999 and 2000, researchers at Georgetown University completed a study in early 2000 that suggested that the District of Columbia would be better served if health care for its uninsured and indigent populations were purchased through the private rather than the public sector.

The principal investigator, Paul Offner, Ph.D., was former director of the District of Columbia Department of Health Medical Assistance Administration, and during the grant period a professor at Georgetown University's Institute for Health Care Research and Policy.

Key Conclusions

Researchers drew the following conclusions in a Health Affairs article:

  • The District of Columbia could create an insurance program for all of its uninsured residents and competitively procure health care for them in the private market by closing D.C. General Hospital and combining the saved funds with other funds it receives for the uninsured.
  • Several advantages would accrue through this:
  • Competitive bidding would bring down costs.
  • Access to care would be improved as consumers would be able to obtain services closer to where they live, rather than having to travel to the city's southeast quadrant where D.C. General is located.
  • The District's health care system would be strengthened as efficient providers receive additional business and inefficient ones leave the market.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project through a grant of $49,923.

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