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Universal Health Care Coverage for Children: Impact on Pediatric Health Care Providers

A Northern California county expanded health coverage to cover nearly all children in the state through a new insurance program. In two years, 75,500 children entered a health care system near capacity. We hypothesized that the influx of thousands of previously uninsured children into the health system would affect providers in many ways. This cross-sectional study sought to investigate how this influx affected provider practices, job satisfaction, access to specialists, and overarching views about the program. Qualitative analyses of expert interviews were performed. Providers reported improved access to health care, specialists, and medications for patients. They cited increased job satisfaction for providers due to fewer limits on care, improved referral process, and decreased patient family financial stress. Providers noted the persistence of long appointment wait times for specialist care. After moving to near universal coverage, safety net providers described increased job satisfaction. Because this study examined safety-net providers, future research requires a more representative sample of providers.

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