News Release
March 11, 2003




For more information:
Elizabeth F. Shores, 501-686-8995
Wireless phone: 501-425-0974

Leslie W. Taylor, 501-686-8998
Wireless phone: 501-951-7260



UAMS Reports Dramatic Increase in Uninsured Patients, Charges at Arkansas Hospitals

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) released a new analysis of the impact of health insurance unavailability on Arkansas hospitals March 11, showing that admissions of patients without insurance increased by 30 percent between 2000 and 2001 while the average charges for those admissions increased from $8,185 to $9,268.

Dr. Joseph Thompson of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement discussed the findings in a noon panel discussion at UAMS. The center is a joint health policy research program of UAMS, the Arkansas Department of Health, which collects data from all Arkansas hospitals, and BlueCross BlueShield of Arkansas.

"We knew most uninsured Arkansans are working people whose employers do not offer health insurance. This new evidence of the rising number of the uninsured should be a ‘tornado siren’ for communities across the state," he said.

Thompson showed the following changes in the numbers of uninsured patients admitted by Arkansas hospitals and the charges they incurred:

1999  2000 2001
Number of Patients
Admitted without Insurance
17,815 20,545 26,843
Percentage Increase in
Admissions without Insurance
15 30
Percentage of All Admissions 4.9 5.5 6.8
Hospital Charges, in millions $151 $168 $248
Percentage Increase
In Uncovered Charges
11 48
Average Charge, by Admission
Of Uninsured Patient
$8,484 $8,185 $9,268

The Center for Health Statistics in the Arkansas Department of Health provided data for this analysis. The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement reported last year that while most uninsured Arkansans work at full-time jobs, Arkansas has the second-lowest rate of employers (45 percent) who provide health insurance coverage in the nation.

The panel discussion March 11 was part of Cover the Uninsured Week events in Little Rock.

UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson led the panel discussion among students, educators, doctors, nurses and other health care providers about the plight of the uninsured and the challenge of providing the uninsured with adequate health care.

Dean E. Albert Reece of the UAMS College of Medicine; Dean James Raczynski of the UAMS College of Public Health; Kevin Ryan of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement; Dr. Larry Braden of the 0uachita Valley Family Clinic; Paul Cunningham of the Arkansas Hospital Association; and Kate McCarthy, a student in the College of Medicine, also participated.

Cover the Uninsured Week events are taking place March 9-16 in Little Rock and in dozens of other cities across the country. A broad coalition of Arkansas organizations, working in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, organized Cover the Uninsured Week events in Little Rock.


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