What is a Community Health Center?
Since the nation’s first health Community 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 30 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 — also called Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)– provide substantial benefits to the country and its health care system.
America’s Health Centers Are Drivers of Health Equity
- Health centers improve the health and well-being of underserved communities while empowering people to become actively involved in solving issues unique to their needs and communities.
- Health centers are innovators, healers and problem solvers that reach beyond the walls of the conventional health care delivery system to prevent illness and address the social drjvers that may cause poor health – diet, nutrition, mental illness, or homelessness.
- The health center mission to promote health equity has become increasingly important in the fight against COVID-19 and other preventable diseases.
- Health centers are fighting the spread of the COVID-19 variants in vulnerable communities—including communities of color and special populations (elderly, people experiencing homelessness, and agricultural workers).
- Health centers work in partnership with health care payers, entire health care systems, the private sector, and the government on all levels to address and respond to the critical public health crises of our time, including:
- Natural disasters and extreme weather events
- The national opioid crisis
- Maternal mortality and more.
- By mission and by law, health centers offer enabling services to assist patients with specific barriers to care, including:
- Food security
- Accessing other social services
- Studies show the quality care health centers deliver is as good or even better than what patients may experience visiting a private practice, yet the range of services found under one roof is also affordable.
- To prevent COVID from shutting down our economy, health centers are testing, treating and vaccinating America’s essential workers— people who work in factories, agricultural fields or clean our public spaces. This day-to-day work helps keep businesses open and employees healthy.
- Health center are partners in rebuilding the economy. Health centers produce over $63 billion in economic activity in some of the most distressed communities.
- Health centers employ well over 300,000 (270,000 full time employees) including many of our nation’s veterans.
Learn More About Health Centers
- View our Community Health Center Brochure
- View our infographic: America’s Health Centers: A Snapshot (2022)
- View the interactive timeline: Health Centers and Social Determinants of Health
- Visit the Community Health Center Chartbook, our annually updated publication that uses graphics and charts to describe who health centers serve, how health centers meet their communities’ needs, health center growth and remaining challenges, and how health centers make an impact.