Monday, July 20, 2009

Free Health Clinics Getting Hit Hard

With the unemployment rate rising at a rapid pace, with Americans losing their health care through employment, as COBRA payments are not only unaffordable but a joke, more Americans are going to free health clinics and the funding for these facilities is at an all time low.

As more Americans lose their jobs — and the health insurance that their employers had provided — they are turning to free health clinics, which are also seeing a drop in financial support.

In all, about 4 million Americans are expected to visit the country's 1,200 free health clinics this year. The United States is the only developed nation that does not have a comprehensive national health care plan; most people receive insurance through their jobs. The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 9.5 percent, the highest in 26 years.

"Over the last year, free clinics have seen patient load increase by 40 to 50 percent," said Nicole D. Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics. "People who just last year had health coverage are now out of work and need to have their health care needs met."


For people like George Anderson, who was laid off nearly a year ago when his book distribution company filed for bankruptcy, health insurance and doctors were unthinkable luxuries. Anderson, 48, who had high blood pressure, and his wife, who contracted pneumonia, the free clinic was a necessity.

"We felt like we were teetering on the edge of a cliff with all the other bills we had to pay for and if we had to pay those hospital bills too, that would have tipped us over," said Anderson, who has since found another job. read more here...

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