Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there have been various media stories stating that there is a rash of Free & Charitable Clinic closures across the United States because the majority of individuals are receiving care under the ACA. There have been stories that the Affordable Care Act is putting clinics “out of business” and that safety-net clinics are no longer needed.
While there have been some clinic closures and this is exciting news for some communities, by no means does this indicate or uncover a nationwide trend of clinic closures due to the Affordable Care Act.
Across the nation, most of America’s 1,200+ Free & Charitable Clinics are actually reporting the opposite. A recent survey of clinics in America found that:
- 88% of clinics report that the largest challenge for their patients is the high cost of insurance
- 83% of patients at Free & Charitable Clinics come from a working household
- 80% of clinics report that the high cost of medication is a challenge for patients
- 70% of Free & Charitable Clinics report having newly insured patients returning to the clinic due to high costs of medication, premiums or lack of access.
- 68% of clinics are reporting no decrease in patient demand at their clinic since the passage of the Affordable Care Act
- 58% of clinics are reporting an increase in patient demand for primary care services
A very large misconception about the Affordable Care Act is that everyone will have insurance or access to health care and that our clinics will no longer be needed. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The ACA is not and was never intended to be a universal health care system, meaning not everyone in our country is going to get care. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, there may be as many as 29-30 million people left without access to affordable health care even after the Affordable Care Act and the promise of expanded access.
Given these realities, Free and Charitable Clinics will remain an important part of the national health care safety-net. In those communities where patients are getting access to health insurance, either through a private insurer or through expanded Medicaid, we will celebrate those small victories, while recognizing that many other clinics in the country will continue to stand in the gap of our current and future health care system.
To say there is a nationwide trend of Free and Charitable Clinic closures is not just unfair; it is unfathomable and simply put – not true.
For every story of a clinic closing, we are hearing even more stories of clinics that are increasing their hours and services in both states that have expanded Medicaid and those who have not.
Our clinics will remain “Open for Business” to help the millions left behind and we will continue to work with our volunteers, donors and communities throughout the nation to Build A Healthy America, One Patient At A Time.
To learn more about how you can donate or volunteer at your local clinic please visit www.nafcclinics.org
To learn more about the ACA impact on Free & Charitable Clinics and patients in American and in your state please visit http://nafcclinics.org/resources/infographic