"Reach Out: Memphis" Expands Health Care Coverage for Uninsured

Reach Out: Physicians' Initiative to Expand Care to Underserved Americans
    • January 1, 2004

From 1995 to 1999, staff at the Church Health Center of Memphis, in Tennessee, led a community-wide effort to expand the "Memphis Plan," which the center had created in 1991 as an affordable health care program for lower-wage, uninsured working people.

Project staff from the center worked jointly with the Memphis and Shelby County Medical Society on the project, focusing specifically on bringing more private physicians into the Memphis Plan.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Reach Out: Physicians' Initiative to Expand Care to Underserved Americans national program.

Key Results

  • Efforts by project staff resulted in the following increases during the span of the project:
    • The number of patients insured under the Memphis Plan rose from 135 to 1,373.
    • The number of employers participating in the plan rose from 107 to 477.
    • The number of primary care providers donating services increased from 49 to 82.
    • The number of participating specialist physicians more than doubled, from 45 to 102.
  • Project staff oversaw the addition of free hospital and surgical services to the Memphis Plan, with two area hospitals agreeing to provide emergency room and hospital services for up to 7,000 Memphis Plan enrollees.