Monday, August 02, 2010

The impact of free clinics in the U.S.

From a recent survey:

Results The study represents the first census of free clinics in 40 years and garnered a 75.9% response rate. Overall, 1007 free clinics operated in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Annually, these clinics provided care for 1.8 million individuals, accounting for 3.5 million medical and dental visits. The mean operating budget was $287 810. Overall, 58.7% received no government revenue. Clinics were open a mean of 18 hours per week and generally provided chronic disease management (73.2%), physical examinations (81.4%), urgent/acute care (62.3%), and medications (86.5%).

Conclusions Free clinics operate largely outside of the safety net system. However, they have become an established and meaningful contributor to it. Policymakers should consider integrating the free clinic network with other safety net providers or providing direct financial support.

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