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7.6 Million Californians Rely on the Safety Net of Health Care Providers for Regular Care

September 1, 2007

Fact Sheet

Authors: Melissa S. Gatchell, Shana Charles, PhD, MPP, Ninez A. Ponce, PhD, MPP

This fact sheet looks at the health insurance types and the status of people who use community health centers, public hospitals, and clinics, also called the "safety net," as their usual source of health care. The authors found that:
  • 7.6 million Californians consider a safety net provider to be their usual source of care,
  • 3.1 million safety net users have private coverage, either through their employer or directly purchased,
  • 1.9 million uninsured Californians use a safety net provider for their care, and
  • the safety net plays an especially critical role for uninsured people of color, immigrants, families with children, and low-income adults and children.
The important role that the safety net currently plays in the care of people with employment-based insurance, Medi-Cal, or Healthy Families coverage suggests that the safety net will continue to be a critically important provider regardless of the outcome of proposed health insurance expansions. This research was funded by grants from The California Wellness Foundation and The California Endowment. Findings are based on data collected in the 2005 California Health Interview Survey.

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