The Need

In 2009, the number of medically uninsured in Los Angeles County was 2.7 million, about 28.9% of the population. (1)  Statewide, the number of uninsured grew from 6.4 million in 2007 to 8.2 million in 2009 (about 25% of the non-elderly population). (2)

The City of Torrance has not escaped the statistics. According to the Community Need Index (CNI) sponsored by Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), Torrance sports a weighted average CNI score of 3.5, the second highest tier of need. Some ZIP codes in Torrance (like 90501) have a score as high as 4.2, which is in the highest tier. “Rather than relying solely on public health data, the CNI accounts for the underlying economic and structural barriers that affect overall health. Using a combination of research, literature, and experiential evidence, CHW identified five prominent barriers that [enabled them] to quantify health care access in communities across the nation. These barriers include those related to income, culture/language, education, insurance, and housing.” (3)

The economic recession is also taking its toll on public hospitals.  The “safety net” of public hospital emergency departments is being forced to absorb these  patients without additional reimbursement. According to a February, 2010  survey released by the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH):

Since the beginning of the economic recession, safety net health systems have treated more patients overall, including 23 percent more uninsured patients. These health systems have also provided 10 percent more uncompensated care to low-income populations. The increase in uncompensated care costs average more than $2.3 million per hospital with some hospitals incurring more than $16 million in additional costs…(NAHP Press Release, 2/24/10)

The “safety net” of our public hospitals cannot meet the demand alone. Community organizations must come together to offer their own community-based safety networks for the medically uninsured. Creative medical-religious partnerships are an untapped resource in California communities. Churches have access to financial resources, medical personnel willing to volunteer, and a mindset to put the welfare of others before themselves. If churches can come alongside other community service organizations and healthcare institutions, a charitable care network could be established to meet these medical needs and lessen the stress on our local hospital emergency departments.

The TOUCH Coalition exists to create such a charitable care network in Torrance, CA. If your church or civic organization would like to participate in our organizational meeting, please join TOUCH today.


(1) California’s Uninsured by County. Accessed 6/10/2011

(2) Number of Uninsured Jumped to More Than Eight Million from 2007 to 2009. Accessed 6/10/2011.

(3) Community Need Index. Accessed 6/10/2011.



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