Access to free or affordable health care is critical for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans. The majority of the patients served by CHF clinics are low-income: 65 percent of the patients in 2011 had incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Of those served by CHF member community clinics, it is typical that one quarter are children. CHF community clinics are often the only options for these families or individuals, to access consistent, preventive care. CHF clinics are a safety net for those in need and those who may fall into one or more of the following scenarios:
- Families may not be able to afford co-pays to see a provider, or their usual clinic may not be accepting Medicaid patients so they seek out one of the CHF community clinics;
- Patients may be able to pay the co-pay, but are not able to pay for prescribed medications; and/or
- Families with high deductible health insurance for catastrophic events often cannot pay the $200+ cost of a visit to an urgent care clinic.
With the growing number of individuals and families in the metro area who are uninsured or underinsured, clinics’ uncompensated costs are increasing partly because most mainstream clinics limit the number of Medicaid patients they see. These patients must go somewhere else to receive care and CHF clinics are often the only other choice outside of an emergency room. CHF clinics provide stability and access to health care for the vulnerable in the community and the need continues during this shake-out period of implementation of the Affordable Health Care government reform.