Thousands of health centers are funded by the federal government and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. The locations provide a number of medical services to patients, regardless of their income or insurance status. These sites are committed to, by federal law, to provide some form of free or low cost medical and dental care to patients without regard of their ability to pay the resulting bills.
These clinics and health centers offer a wide range of primary and preventive services. As indicated, while anyone can turn to a center, a focus tends to be on the medically underserved and uninsured in our nation. Some of the people that benefit more than others from the centers include school aged children from low income families, patients that are under or uninsured, migrant and seasonal farm workers, public housing residents, and even the homeless. However anyone from the general community can use a center.
People can receive their primary, or limited emergency, health care services at a federal government funded health center. The clinics and centers tend to be funded by the Department of Health and Human Services or through what is known as the Consolidated Health Centers Program. If your income is low enough then the center will treat you for free. If you do have some form of income or insurance, and maybe are considered more moderate income, then discounts will be provided and you will be charged a minimal fee. So you are entitled to affordable or free medical care, regardless of your income.
The federally funded health centers provide the following benefits.
Government supported health centers have been operating since the 1960s. Over the years, and even today, they provide comprehensive, culturally considerate and high quality primary health care services. This includes dental check ups, cleanings, medications, care for children, and more. Assistance is offered to anyone, however the medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations (such as seniors) are heavy users of the sites.
Examples of health care offered at these centers will vary, but it is very extensive. They will assist you, even if the patient has no health insurance. Those who use the facilities only need to pay what they can afford to, based on income levels and any insurance coverage (if they have insurance). Examples of what the clinics can offer include treatment for the sick, checkups when you're well, medications, complete care for those that are pregnant, dental care, prescription drugs, immunizations and checkups for children, and even mental health and substance abuse.
The clinics are community-based and also serve as patient-directed organizations. Many are located in or serve a high need community, such as an inner city or rural town or county. Not only do they provide free or low cost, yet comprehensive primary health care, but they also offer other supportive services. This includes things such as education, translation services and transportation. All of this is done in an effort to promote continued access to health care. They also provide care with all medical bills and fees adjusted based on ability to pay.
Some of the health centers receive additional government funding and grants to focus on certain special populations. However they will still help all patients. Some of the clinics will focus on agricultural workers and their dependents, homeless individuals and families, people living in public housing, or Native Hawaiians.
The homeless health care program serves over a million people per year. Evictions, foreclosures, and general homelessness is still a major problem throughout the country. It can be found in both urban and suburban communities as well as more rural area. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services and HRSA-funded health clinics help these homeless individuals and families every day.
The main resource available to them is the Health Care for the Homeless Program. This provides a major source of free medical care. It helps women, children, veterans, and others. Clinics serve patients that live in transitional housing, on the street, or in emergency shelters.
Some locations are known as Migrant Health Centers and focus on agricultural workers, immigrants and their families. The federal funded health centers provide medical or dental care to about one-third of the nation’s migratory and seasonal agricultural workers. They also receive a full rage of medical and dental services, including medications and a focus on their health and safety needs.
The Public Housing Primary Care Program is available to families or individuals that occupy those units. It provides all residents of public and government subsidized low income housing, regardless of their income, with increased access to quality and comprehensive health care services. They can receive check ups, disease prevention, prescription drugs, dental assistance, and primary health care services. A few hundred thousand people from public housing will usually receive free medical care every year.
Some health centers even focus on Native Hawaiians. It can improve the health condition of Native Hawaiians by making health promotion, education, and disease prevention services and more widely available. Federal funds and government grants are used to pay for the Native Hawaiian Health Care System and it also provides outreach, referral, and linkage. Other care made available includes immunizations, nutrition programs, screening and control of diabetes and hypertension, and other basic primary care services.
The government support health centers are located in most cities, town, and counties. They even operate in many rural areas as well. More information and locations can be found by dialing (877) 464-4772.
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