part or whole, resulting in costs to providers, communities, and society, as well as being a source of financial stress, anxiety, and possibly shame for recipients. The burden of uncompensated care is distributed widely and unevenly across providers and sponsors, depending on local configurations of health care services and institutions and on the structure of state and local revenue sources (IOM, 2003a).

Uncompensated care costs may beget additional external costs in the forms of higher local taxes to subsidize or reimburse uncompensated care, diversion of public funds from other public programs, and reduced availability of certain kinds of services within communities. These costs are discussed in the following chapter.

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