Robust safety net systems needed for suburban uninsured

With 40% of uninsured Americans now living in the suburbs, policies to address poverty and gaps in healthcare coverage in the U.S.—typically focused on urban and rural communities—are increasingly needed in suburban areas, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health doctoral candidate Alina Schnake-Mahl.

Schnake-Mahl was interviewed about suburban uninsurance on the radio show The Takeaway. In a recent study, she and Benjamin Sommers, associate professor of health policy and economics, found that, despite a general reputation of affluence, the suburbs have increasing numbers of poor who lack insurance and face substantial barriers to health care access.

“We found that almost 1 in 3 suburban residents that are poor had an unmet care need due to cost in the last year,” Schnake-Mahl said. “These are people who are just bypassing care because they can’t get it in the suburbs.”

She added, “There’s a need for robust safety net systems in suburban areas. We can’t just provide care in the same way and provide social services in urban areas in the way we historically have. We need to think about shifting those services to those who are most in need.”

Listen to The Takeaway interview: New Study Shines Light on Suburban Healthcare Gap