The Regional Health Commission produces an annual “Access to Care” data book, which reviews community-wide progress toward strengthening the health care safety net system in the region. Data is gathered from safety net provider institutions across St. Louis City and County. We can use this information to:
- Assess the current capacity of the region’s health care safety net
- Leverage data to advocate for improved health care policy
- Elevate the lived experience of uninsured and underinsured patients across the health care system
- Address social determinants of health
- Work as a region to improve health outcomes and increase access to care
- The overall rate of uninsured individuals has continued to steadily decline in St. Louis City and County over the past four years, with more people being covered through both commercial and public insurance.
- There continues to be a shift in the payor mix of St. Louis safety net organizations.
- Wait times across primary and specialty care safety net sites continue to lengthen over time.
Primary Care Encounters by Payor Category
Over the last four years, uninsured and Medicaid encounters made up between 74% and 76% of the total encounters at safety net primary care organizations.
Primary Care Uninsured Users Served by
Total St. Louis Uninsured Population
Who are we serving? Safety net primary care providers served roughly 78% of the total uninsured population in St. Louis City and County in 2018.
Emergency Department Encounters by Payor Category
Over the last four years, the payor mix at safety net emergency departments has remained relatively stable among the four categories.
Familiar Faces at Emergency Departments
In 2018, 18,808 patients visiting St. Louis area emergency departments had 4 or more emergency department visits at the same hospital.
Familiar Face Users by Payor Category, 2018
“Many adults that want to utilize healthcare services work their full-time or part-time jobs during the hours that most FQHC’s [Federally Qualified Health Centers] are open. This contributes to these individuals seeking out urgent care services (some that don’t necessarily take Gateway payment) or going to a 24-hour Emergency Department because they know they will be seen.”Support Staff at Safety Net Provider Organization
Familiar Faces Encounters Among Uninsured Patients at Emergency Departments
Where are uninsured familiar faces receiving emergency care?
Specialty Care Encounters by Payor Category
Over the last four years, privately insured encounters made up more than half of all specialty care encounters. In the same time frame, uninsured encounters* made up less than 5% of all specialty care encounters.
Wait Times for New Patients at Frequently Utilized Specialty Departments, 2018
Departments highlighted in red have the highest referral rates among GBH patients.
“Appointments for many specialties are booked several months out. When an urgent appointment is requested patients don’t hear from anyone and have to call the streamline dept. where they are told the notes are in review. The referral dept. is great but the clinics are very difficult.”Support Staff at Safety Net Provider Organization
Behavioral Health Encounters by Type of Care
Since 2015, emergency care behavioral health encounters have remained relatively stable, while primary care behavioral health encounters have increased by 34%.
Total Inpatient Psychiatric Encounters, 2017-2018
Staffed Inpatient Behavioral Health Beds, 2017-2018
For the purposes of the “Access to Care” data book, individuals enrolled in Gateway to Better Health were categorized into the “Uninsured” payor category. Gateway to Better Health (GBH) is a temporary health care program designed to provide uninsured adults a bridge in care until they are able to enroll in healthcare options provided by the Affordable Care Act. Learn more about Gateway to Better Health.
Learn more by viewing our Workgroup Membership Roster (PDF).
This issue brief acts as a supplement to data provided in the 2017 Access to Care report and focuses on geographic access trends among uninsured patients. Utilizing patients’ zip code of residence, this issue brief tracks the number of uninsured patients living in St. Louis City and County who were served by local safety net providers.
Data.census.gov is the new platform to access data and digital content from the U.S. Census Bureau. The RHC utilizes Census Data in conjunction with the Access to Care information collected for these reports.
To learn more about the Access to Care Data Book, please contact Blessing Kuebee.