Improve the health of the people of Wisconsin by supporting and strengthening physicians' ability to practice high-quality patient care in a changing environment.

WMJ Vol. 118 No. 1: Brief Report

Barriers to Enrollment for the Uninsured:
A Single-Site Survey at an Urban Free Clinic in Milwaukee

Drumil Bhatt, BS; Ken Schellhase, MD, MPH


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Background: Wisconsin currently has a 6.4% uninsured rate. In Milwaukee, it is not known what proportion of the currently uninsured may be eligible for health insurance and why those eligible have not enrolled.

Methods: Anonymous surveys were distributed at a free/low-cost health clinic in Milwaukee to ask their attendees why they remain uninsured.

Results: Fifty-one percent of respondents cited insurance being “too expensive” as the primary reason for lacking health insurance. Additionally, 56% of respondents appeared to misunderstand their Medicaid eligibility, while 69% appeared to misunderstand their Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace eligibility.

Discussion: A majority of respondents misunderstood their eligibility for ACA subsidies, indicating that additional efforts are needed to educate uninsured Milwaukee residents to maximize health insurance coverage.

Author Affiliations: Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Milwaukee, Wis (Bhatt); MCW, Department of Family Medicine, Milwaukee, Wis (Schellhase).

Corresponding Author: Drumil Bhatt, BS, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 W Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226; phone 714.616.0506; email dbhatt@mcw.edu.

Funding/Support: None declared.

Financial Disclosures: None declared.