Center for Health Policy

Why Low-Income Patients Prefer Hospital Care to a Doctor’s Office

Patients with low socioeconomic status use emergency and hospital care more often than primary care because they believe hospital care is more affordable and convenient, and of better quality than care provided by primary care physicians, according to the results of a new study published in Health Affairs. “This study debunks the perception that low-SES individuals abuse the emergency room and need to be educated on its proper use,” said David Grande, MD, MPA, assistant professor of Medicine at Penn Medicine and senior author on the study. “To the contrary, these patients eloquently explained to us how we have built a health care system that incentivizes them to wait and get sick in order to get care that is more costly to society.”

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