In 2009, PCM opened the Free Medical Clinic to provide free medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health care to low-income Lincoln residents without medical insurance.
When we started the clinic, it was estimated that there were 40,000 uninsured residents of Lancaster County Nebraska and that 35,000 made less than 200% of the federal poverty level. Many, considered the working poor, had jobs but did not have insurance or a wage that would allow them to pay for health care. We knew we could meet a vital need through this service to the community.
PCM’s Free Medical Clinic is now the 3rd largest free clinic in the United States; the need continues to be great. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 31 million Americans will still remain uninsured following the full and successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Based the progress in implementing this program so far, it may be years before the ACA is fully in place.
According to a new report released by the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, Free and Charitable Clinics across the U.S. have seen a 40% increase demand over the last two years. Unfortunately, they have also experienced a 20% decrease in support due to people believing that access to health care for the poor is now resolved. Read more at www.nafcclinics.org.
We see every day that the need is great. Currently, over 18,000 individual patients use our Free Medical Clinic as their medical home. Many of these patients would otherwise use hospital emergency rooms or go without care.
We know that prompt treatment of minor medical needs and ongoing management of chronic health conditions will improve the health and wellness of uninsured residents of Lincoln. But, it can take 4 to 10 weeks for low-income individuals to see a doctor at existing medical providers.
At least 40% of emergency room visits at BryanLGH Medical Center not resulting in admission were for visits that could have been treated in a physician’s office or prevented by appropriate treatment. (Assessment of the Safety Net in Lincoln, March 2004)
Our Free Medical Clinic gives people a medical home who need it most.