By Amy Simmons Farber
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 50 million people ages 18 to 64 have had no health insurance for the past year. That’s about 26.2 percent of the adult population. This is sobering news, but likely something health centers on the front lines of public health already know. Health centers are experiencing higher uninsured patient numbers as never before, largely because of the recession. In fact, a new report from NACHC finds that the number of uninsured patients at health centers grew by 36 percent nationally from 2004-2009, yet state funding to health centers has decreased by 42 percent in the last two years.
Studies show people need both health insurance coverage and a place to go for care to stay healthy. Yet, there are still 60 million people struggling without access to basic health care. That is why health centers are preparing to expand their reach under the new health reform law to double patients served to 40 million by 2015. If more people have access to a medical home, they will use it and stay healthy and out of hospitals. The prescription is simple — and within our grasp.