From the reader's perspective, whether he/she is a patient or not, Open Access (OA) is of course welcome. And, as has been noted on HIFA before, this is generally true for authors as well, since most Open Access journals don't charge for publication. The discussion here conflates free OA with the minority “author pays” publishing model.
I checked this again today (18 April). According to the Directory of Open Access Journals ( https://doaj.org/), there are currently 13,055 open access journals being published, of which 9,570 (73.30%) do not have an article processing charge, while 3,427 (26.25%) do, with no Information for 58 (0.4%) of the journals.
We did the same analysis almost exactly one year ago (on 25 April 2018).
It is interesting to note that, while the number of journals in DOAJ has grown from 11,294 in 2018 to 13,055 in 2019, quite a signficant increase (over 15%), the percentages of journals that do and don't levy an article processing charge have remained exactly the same.
So (happily) there is no evidence of any trend for more OA journals touse APCs, and it remains the case that three quarters of journals do not levy APCs. And, as Neil mentions, those that do use APCs generally waive them for independent authors who are writing without institutional support, and for authors from developing countries.
HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Global Health, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme at the University of Winchester. Formerly an NGO, Phi supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. Chris also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. He was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Resource Centres project. He served on WHO’s Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. Chris has been a director of the World Association of Medical Editors, UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). UK-based, he is also building houses in Zambia.
Email: chris AT chriszielinski.com