|Basic InformationLatest News|Health Insurance Hikes Ease But Workers Pay a Price, Survey FindsHealth Care Reform Tied to Higher Uptake of MammographyAverage Premiums for Health Care Coverage Stable in 2016More Americans Can Afford Medications Under Obamacare: StudyACA Has Increased Rx Drug Use, Cut Out-of-Pocket SpendingMany Hispanics, Poor Still Without Health Insurance: ReportHealth Insurance Status May Affect Cancer Patients' SurvivalObamacare Paying Off With Improved Health Care: ReportRates of ASD Diagnosis Up With New Insurance MandatesMedical Marijuana Laws Affect Medicare Part D SpendingPatients Face High Hospital Bills Despite Having InsuranceEven 'Good' Insurance Comes With Hidden Hospital Bills2017 Will Bring Premium Rate Increases Under ACAMany Could Face Steep Rise in Obamacare Premiums for 2017More Evidence Obamacare Is Lowering Numbers of UninsuredObamacare Premiums Primed to Spike in 2017Remaining Uninsured May Be Difficult to Reach Via ACAOut-of-Pocket Costs Rose Moderately Under Obamacare: ReportNearly 1 Million More Kids Have Health Coverage After Obamacare6 Years Later, Obamacare Still Divides America: PollObamacare Buyers Could Have Fewer Choices in 2017Obamacare Expanding Coverage for the Poor, Study FindsMedicare Spends Billions on Chronic Kidney Disease, Study FindsMedicare May Soon Cover Diabetes Prevention ProgramTroubled Kids' Psychiatric Care Often Delayed by Insurance RulesUninsured Parents Often Unaware Kids Could Be CoveredMany Unfamiliar With Health Insurance Lingo, Study SaysSCOTUS: States Can't Force Health Care Data ReleaseCDC: Number of Uninsured Persons in U.S. Down Since 2013High Deductibles Don't Prompt People to Shop for Best Health Care Deal: StudyDiagnostic Imaging Down With High Deductible Health PlansStudies: 2 Ways Obamacare Is Saving MoneyObamacare Enrollment Initiative Targets Latinos1 in 10 Medicaid Recipients Gets Drugs to Quit SmokingAffordable Care Act Has Improved Access to Care, AffordabilityDeadline Extended for Obamacare Sign-UpsDown to the Wire on Obamacare Sign-UpsMore Former Inmates Getting Medicaid Under Obamacare, Study FindsPricey Hepatitis C Drugs Denied to Almost Half of Medicaid Patients: StudyIn Its Third Year, Obamacare Faces Growing PainsPart D Enrollment Doesn't Improve Outcomes After AMINearly 15 Percent of Plans Lack In-Network SpecialistsObamacare Allows Tobacco Surcharge on Older SmokersFree Clinics Play Important Role for Uninsured in U.S.Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Free Clinics Play Important Role for Uninsured in U.S.
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Jun 14th 2010
MONDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- About 1.8 million Americans make 3.5 million medical and dental visits to free clinics each year, a new study has found.
The researcher, Julie S. Darnell of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, analyzed surveys collected from 764 free clinics in the United States between October 2005 and December 2006. For this study, a free clinic was defined as a non-profit organization that: provided medical or dental services directly to patients for no fee or a fee of up to $20 per visit; did not bill patients or deny services for lack of payment; and were not recognized as federal health centers or family planning clinics.
The study is published in the June 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The clinics included in the study were open for an average of 18 hours per week and, in general, the types of services they provided were: management of chronic disease (73.2 percent), physical exams (81.4 percent), urgent care (62.3 percent) and prescriptions for medications (86.5 percent).
Each clinic reported serving an average of 747 new patients annually and an estimated 1,796 total unduplicated patients. Patients who used the free clinics tended to fall into the following categories: lack of insurance, inability to pay, limited English-language skills, lack of housing, and being a member of a racial or ethnic minority, according to a news release about the study from the journal's publisher.
The average operating budget of a clinic was $287,810. Funding came from a number of sources, including charitable donations (90.6 percent), civic groups (66.8 percent), churches (66.3 percent), foundations (65.1 percent) and corporations (55.1 percent). Of the clinics included in the study, 58.7 percent received no government funding, Darnell reported.
"Free clinics provide a range of preventive and general medical care for an estimated 10 percent of the working-age uninsured population who seek care," according to the release on the study, which was conducted when Darnell was with the University of Chicago.
"Free clinics have passed the point in history when they can exist below the radar. At the same time, policymakers and other safety net providers must acknowledge the important role that free clinics play. Formal integration of free clinics into the safety net has the potential to strengthen the overall health system, which is important regardless of the outcomes of the national health reform debate," Darnell concluded.
The American College of Emergency Physicians has more about access to care for the uninsured.
This article: Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.