About Indigent HealthCare

Past - Present - Future

This timeline is a brief summary of the history of Indigent Care in Polk County, and the possible outcomes pending the result of the 2016 referendum to extend the half cent sales surtax.

Health Insurance Coverage Status - show / hide

Health Insurance Coverage Status for Total Population

Florida and Polk County are close in numbers with a five percent difference at most, but there is greater disparity in the comparison between the country and the county with as much as a 13 percent difference.
Health Insurance Coverage Status for Polk Population - show / hide

Health Coverage Status for Polk County Population

The uninsured population decreased in number from 2013 to 2014; this can be attributed to the increase in those qualifying and utilizing Medicaid. While there are fewer uninsured people in Polk, there are still 97,996 individuals without coverage, approximately 15 percent of the county’s population.

Uninsured individuals do not seek treatment, which often leads to the development of chronic conditions. Chronic conditions are less costly and easier to prevent than to treat. Due to the lack of health insurance, rather than going to a primary care physician or urgent care center, some uninsured individuals will present at the Emergency Room for care.

Many times the individual will present with a minor illness, such as the common cold, boils, headaches, fevers, and other conditions easily treated in a non-emergent setting. Or, because the uninsured individual did not seek care when symptoms presented or persisted, their condition becomes chronic resulting in a hospital admission. If an uninsured person is admitted to the hospital it is likely they do not have the resources to pay for the admission and treatment. No matter the individual or the medical provider/hospital these services do not go unpaid, and the burden often falls directly or indirectly on residents and businesses in the community.

Uninsured Population in Polk County by Federal Poverty Level (FPL) - show / hide

Unisured Population in Polk County by Federal Poverty Level (FPL)

Uninsured Population Served by Polk County's Indigent HealthCare - show / hide

Uninsured Population Served by Polk County's Indigent HealthCare

Marketplace insurance, Medicare and Medicaid fall short in covering everyone’s healthcare needs and expenses. The population affected by this lack of coverage falls into what is referred to as the “coverage gap”. Approximately 27,745 Polk residents fall into the coverage gap.

Of the 57,331 uninsured people in Polk, living at or between zero and 200 percent of poverty, Polk’s Indigent HealthCare is currently serving 42,867 of them.

Polk County Indigent HealthCare Coordinated Healthcare Access Points - show / hide

Polk County Indigent HealthCare Access Points

Polk County is designated as a medically underserved area. Medically Underserved Areas/Populations are designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as having high infant mortality, high elderly population, too few primary care providers or high poverty the last of which especially concerning Polk County. Polk is also a Health Professional Shortage area also designated by HRSA meaning the county has shortages in primary medical care, dental and mental health providers. The shortage may be geographic (a county or service area), population (e.g. low income or Medicaid eligible) or facilities (e.g. federally qualified health center or other state or federal prisons).

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: HRSA)

Polk County has a 2,061 : 1 ratio of residents to primary care physicians.

Polk County has a 3,540 : 1 ratio of residents to dental care providers.

Polk County has a 1,483 : 1 ratio of residents to mental health providers

Prior to 2004, very few of these access points existed for low income residents. Though indigent healthcare access points have increased, other types of care have been added. More people are being served, which offers some control over the cost of medical services.

Additional Resources:

Health Coverage


Polk County Seal

The Polk County Board of County Commissioners is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

Polk County Board of County Commissioners