Reach Out: Physicians' Initiative to Expand Care to Underserved Americans

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Program: 1992–2000

Field of Work: Expanding and providing care to the medically underserved.

Problem Synopsis: Individuals who have no health insurance have more difficulty getting medical care than those who are insured. The uninsured often have more acute and advanced illnesses and injuries and higher mortality than those with insurance. The number of uninsured Americans keeps increasing; by 2000, it was more than 44 million. Providing care to this group, who are more likely than the insured to be of low income, is complex; many physicians are disinclined to treat the uninsured.

Synopsis of the Work: Reach Out: Physicians' Initiative to Expand Care to Underserved Americans established partnerships with primary care providers, hospitals, health departments, state agencies and others to increase the number of providers offering care to the uninsured. The project sites included free clinics, referral networks. rural primary care networks, and public health private partnerships.

Key Findings/Results

  • As cited in the Journal of the American Medical Society (JAMA) in January 2000, 11,252 physicians (approximately 2% of U.S. physicians) participated in Reach Out, providing care to the underserved via their community's site. Some 199,584 people, or 0.5 percent of the nation's uninsured, received medical care through Reach Out.

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