Managed care for uninsured patients at an academic health center: a case study

Acad Med. 2000 Apr;75(4):323-30. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200004000-00007.


In 1997, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center ("the Center") created a managed care plan ("the Plan") for its uninsured patients who were county residents. The Plan's features include pooling the resources of existing county safety-net providers, enrolling patients with primary care providers at easily accessible neighborhood-based clinics, and investing in social support services, case management, and 24-hour telephone triage. After two years of the Plan's operation, the utilization of ambulatory care services by Plan enrollees, the number of discharges per 1,000 enrollees from the Center-affiliated University Hospital, and the number of hospital days per 1,000 enrollees had all dropped significantly (p < .001 for all). For the 13,114 enrollees in the Plan, University Hospital saved an estimated $1,904,872 per year in costs. The replacement of unpaid hospital days with paying patients is estimated to have yielded over $695,000 in additional revenues per year. The authors conclude that managing the care of uninsured patients in an academic health center can reduce ambulatory care and inpatient utilization and reduce the cost of care. To achieve these favorable outcomes requires the organization of services to meet the unique needs of the uninsured and underserved population.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers*
  • Health Planning
  • Humans
  • Managed Care Programs*
  • Medically Uninsured*
  • Models, Organizational
  • New Mexico