A survey of hospital emergency rooms in Los Angeles County was conducted in March 1987. Analysis of the distribution of uninsured emergency care patients revealed that private hospitals play a significant frontline role in terms of entry into the hospital system for patients who are unable to pay--almost one-half of such patients were treated in the emergency rooms of private hospitals. Hospitals serving markets in which a higher proportion of residents had incomes below the poverty level provided a greater share of uncompensated emergency room services.
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