Few options to receive basic, quality, and affordable health care exist for the more than 45 million people living in the U.S. without health insurance and the millions more who are underinsured.
That’s why Direct Relief provides support to more than 1,000 nonprofit community clinics and health centers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. which serve as a safety-net, providing services regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
Without the nation’s network of nonprofit community clinics and health centers, which provide comprehensive health services to more than 20 million people in the U.S. each year, many in need would go without care.
Here are six more reasons why we support health centers and you should too!
1. They care for people regardless of ability to pay or other barriers
By intent, health centers are located in lower-income medically underserved communities mostly in rural and inner-city neighborhoods. This helps them overcome common barriers to care by serving communities that otherwise confront financial, geographic, language, cultural and other barriers. They often offer services that help their patients access care such as transportation, translation, case management, health education and home visitation, making them different from most private, office-based physicians.
2.They provide quality care
Health centers demonstrated equal or better quality performance than private practices on ambulatory quality measures, despite service patients with more chronic disease and socio-economic challenges, found a study by Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California-San Francisco. Given their resource challenges, this is particularly impressive and speaks to their dedication to care for their patients.
3.They offer a wide range of services
Clinics and health centers provide both primary and preventive care as well as dental, mental health, women’s health, and pharmacy services. They are also recognized for their ability to effectively treat chronic illness, such as diabetes and hypertension. This broad spectrum of care allows patients to access everything they need in one place. Furthermore, many offer meals, clothing, and other social services in addition to health care.
4.They reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the ER
Because of the preventive care services provided, as well as reduced barriers to access, uninsured people living in close proximity to a clinic or health center are less likely to visit the emergency room. This saves money for tax payers and also makes the overall health care system more efficient.
5.They understand their local community and culture
Clinics and health centers tailor their services to fit the special needs and priorities of their communities. They are invested in their communities for the long term and are trusted by local residents. Many times, their clinician and clinic staff speak the same language their patients do, furthering reducing barriers to care.
6. They serve as a critical point of access to health care during emergencies
Clinics and health centers often play an indispensable role as “first-receivers” of people needing both acute and chronic care during emergencies. They are able to help accommodate the swell of demand that arises during large-scale public health emergencies. Moreover, their patients are typically the most vulnerable people – the chronically ill and uninsured – who do not have the resources to easily bounce back from a disaster.