Since the nation’s first health centers opened in 1965, expansion of the federally-supported health center system to over 1,400 organizations has created an affordable health care option for more than 27 million people. Health centers help increase access to crucial primary care by reducing barriers such as cost, lack of insurance, distance, and language for their patients. In doing so, health centers provide substantial benefits to the country and its health care system. Health centers:
- Provide highly efficient and cost-effective care, generating $24 billion in savings for the health care system annually.
- Increase access to timely primary care, playing a role in reducing costly, avoidable emergency department (ED) visits and hospital stays. The average cost for a health center medical visit was less than one-sixth the average cost of an ED visit in 2012.
- Deliver a broad array of primary and preventive care services, including screening, diagnosis and management of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung disease, depression, cancer and HIV/AIDS.
- Reduce mortality, health disparities and risk of low birth weight with the care they deliver.
- Offer numerous enabling services such as transportation, translation, case management and health education in order to ensure their patients are receiving the care they need.
Photo: courtesy AT Still University, Mesa, Arizona