What Is a Community Health Center?

With the rise of health insurance premiums, other options for families and individuals who can not afford traditional health care have popped up all across America, such as community health centers. These centers make it affordable for people and families to receive proper medical care. But what is a community health center?

The basics

According to the US Health Resources and Services Administration: “Health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary health care services. Health centers also often integrate access to pharmacy, mental health, substance use disorder, and oral health services in areas where economic, geographic, or cultural barriers limit access to affordable health care services.”

The idea behind these centers is to produce high-quality care to people in need, especially those in neighborhoods that are otherwise medically underserved. These centers provide proper treatment by medical professionals, from people who have an associate’s degree in nursing, to doctors with MD degrees, to other professionals with related medical experience.

While every health center is different and provides different services, they commonly provide basic primary medical care, preventative care, free or low-cost prescriptions, and many other medical services.

Access to community health centers

Who can use a community health center? The short answer is “anyone.” Whether you are searching for facts about breast cancer or are in need of a prescription for an ongoing medical condition, these centers provide medical care to all. Community health centers can even treat people with other conditions like asthma and diabetes, whether they have health insurance or not.

Do you need insurance to use a community health center?

While some patients do indeed have health insurance, you don’t need health insurance to receive medical care at one of these centers. Regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, anyone can receive care from the medical professionals on staff, and it doesn’t matter if the patient has a low or high income.

While these centers are appealing to people without health insurance and low income, they are also ideal for people who struggle with deductibles and cost-sharing, and health centers are even seeing an increase in insured patients.

More facts about community health centers

Without community health centers, millions of people would not have their medical needs met. Here are some telling facts about these centers, via Community Health Centers:

  • More than 24 million people in over 6,000 communities use health centers as their primary health care provider.
  • Health center patients’ total cost of care is 41 percent lower than patients of other providers annually.
  • They have reduced infant mortality rates by up to 40 percent.
  • These centers generate over $12 billion in economic benefits for low-income, rural, and inner city communities. They create over 140,000 jobs in the US for economically challenged neighborhoods.
  • Health centers are a money saver for the US health care system, saving more than $17 billion a year by providing affordable care to people with low income and no insurance who may otherwise rely on emergency rooms. Billions of dollars are wasted annually on visits to emergency rooms when patients could have received care at community health centers instead.

The numbers above show how valuable community health centers are to people in America, from patients to workers, and how great of an asset they are to the US health care system.

Community health centers are helping people in need save money and providing them with the medical care they require. Whether someone with health insurance is seeking to save money, someone has low income and no health insurance, or everybody in between, community health centers deliver care to people with medical concerns.