Overview

Because they exist to serve their communities, Community Health Centers are committed to seeking and combining resources from a variety of sources to ensure that access to primary health care services is made available to all community residents, regardless of their financial or insurance status. Patients who can afford to pay are expected to pay. Medicare and Medicaid patients are always welcome, and insurance companies are billed on behalf of patients with coverage.

Each Center's Board and staff also work to obtain support from other sources, such as government and foundation grants, to ensure that care is available for all patients. Federally subsidized Health Centers must, by law, serve populations that are identified by the Public Health Services as medically underserved. This status may be related to the fact that they live in geographic areas where there are few medical resources. Poverty, lack of health insurance, and special needs, such as homelessness, AIDS, or substance abuse may be other reasons why people are recognized as medically underserved. Generally, fifty percent (50%) of Health Center patients have neither private nor public insurance.

Medicaid Landmark Study

A new study confirms significant Medicaid cost-savings among patients at Community Health Centers. The study, recently released online, will be published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Authors analyzed Medicaid claims data for both health center and non-health center patients in 13 states, and found that health centers save, on average, $2,371 (or 24%) in total spending per Medicaid patient when compared to other providers. The study focused on Alabama, Colorado, California, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Mississippi, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Montana, making it one of the largest multi-state studies of its kind. Researchers found that health center Medicaid patients had lower utilization and spending than non–health center patients across all services studied, including:

  • 22% fewer specialty care visits
  • 33% lower spending on specialty care
  • 25% fewer inpatient admissions
  • 27% lower spending on inpatient care
  • 24 % lower total spending.