5 Things to Know About Your Local Healthcare Center
Being a patient with a chronic illness is difficult, but not being a patient is unbearable. For 48 million uninsured Americans and another 56 million who live in medically underserved communities, the search for accessible treatment is an uphill battle. Enter, the community health center.
Over 50 years ago, community residents and healthcare providers decided everyone should have access to quality healthcare — so they made it happen. Health centers popped up across the country, all with the same mission: “To provide access to high-quality, cost-effective health care services to everyone, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.” A movement was born.
For National Health Center Week, let’s spread some awareness of these unique institutions and celebrate their success. Today, one in 15 people living in the United States depends on community health center services for care. Didn’t know that?
Here are a few other things you might not have known about your local health center:
1. They are literally patient-driven. A lot of medical providers claim to provide patient-centric care, but community health centers are the real deal. In fact, they are governed by a Board of Directors representing the community. A majority of the members must be patients who use the center’s services.
2. They’re bound by law to be accessible to all. Health centers are required by federal law to provide services to everyone regardless of ability to pay. To determine payment, they use a sliding scale based on the patient’s income and family size.
3. They reach our nation’s most vulnerable populations, including over 300,000 veterans, 900,000 migrant farm workers and nearly 1.2 million homeless patients. And because health centers offer accessible treatment for all, 83 percent of patients are uninsured or publicly insured and 92 percent have low incomes.
4. There are more than you think. Health centers have a presence in every U.S. state and territory and the District of Colombia. They’re located in high-need areas identified by the federal government.
5. They offer comprehensive care. In addition to managing chronic diseases, health centers provide services like internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, check-ups, immunizations and disease screenings. Many also offer vision, dental and mental health services.
It’s more important than ever to support community health centers and celebrate five decades of serving the underserved. Visit www.nachc.org and you can sign up as a grassroots health care advocate. To find a health center near you, visit: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/.
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Photo via Health Center Week