Community clinics benefit uninsured

A doctor cares for a patient at a hospital in Panorama City, Calif.


Bill Radke: Finally some positive news about health care. A study published today in the journal Health Affairs finds more money for community clinics has meant more treatment for the uninsured. From our Health Desk at WHYY in Philadelphia, Gregory Warner filed this report.

Tim Leaman: Hello! How are you guys? How are you?

Gregory Warner: For the last nine years, Jean Dupre and his wife, Jacqueline, have had one primary care doctor: Doctor Tim Leaman.

Leaman: And this is the best your blood pressure has looked in a long time. So that's really good news.

Leaman tugs at a stethoscope hung around his collar like a gym towel. He works for the Esperanza Health Center in North Philadelphia. It's one of 1,200 federally funded health centers in low-income neighborhoods.

Centers reduce expensive hospital visits by focusing on preventative care and community outreach. A new study published today reports that community centers are also more effective than many hospitals at channeling federal money to the uninsured. Professor Anthony Lo Sasso at the University of Illinois authored the study.

Anthony Lo Sasso: For every dollar that they receive in federal grants, a little over 25 cents of that dollar actually goes to uncompensated care.

Doctor Leaman says that uninsured patients can feel so stigmatized that they don't seek care until the last minute, and it's often in a hospital emergency room. He says it takes a familiar face to gain people's trust.

Leaman: A trust level develops that allows people to feel that they're being seen as a person, being taken care of as a person.

Which means when Leaman tells them to lose weight or take their heart medicine, they're more likely to listen.

In Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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