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One of the most significant issues that prove the prosperity of a country is qualitative health care. If to take into consideration the U.S., it becomes clear that in this country, people can find a cure from different diseases and attain various services. Nevertheless, does it mean that health care in this prosperous country is perfect? It is estimated that nearly 47 million people in the U.S. do not have health insurance (Darnell, 2008, p. 258). It indicates that the problem of health care availability is rather topical in the U.S. Many steps to solve the problem have been introduced in order to and make health care free for everyone. One of them is the creation of free clinics. They are characterized by a special process of work, which allows them to be economically profitable, satisfy special needs of a population, and provide the whole country with special benefits.
Peculiarities of Neighborhood Free Clinics Process of Work
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Neighborhood free clinics are characterized with the following principles of work:
- The target population of these clinics are uninsured citizens.
Most free clinics indicate that almost 56, 4% of their patients are uninsured. In some cases this number increases to the point of 92, 2% (Darell, 2008, p. 259).
- Free clinics are concentrated on providing services for not only the poor without work, but also for the “working poor” who do not have an opportunity to pay for the health care in private clinics because of low wages.
According to National Association of Community Health Centers, 70, 7% of patients of free clinics are poor, while 21, 2% are working poor (Darell, 2008, p. 259).
- Most free clinics have a variable schedule and are not open full time.
Only 25% of neighborhood free clinics state that they are open for patients 30 or more hours weekly. Others are available only dring a limited time (Darell, 2008, p. 260).
- The main employees of neighborhood free clinics are volunteer licensed healthcare professionals.
Almost all neighborhood free clinics indicate that almost 98% of their workers are volunteers. Other 2% of workers consist of a small paid staff (Darell, 2008, p. 260).
In general, it becomes clear that a general characteristic of free clinics procedures is based on the principle of getting the greatest output with allocating the least amount of resources.
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Undoubtedly, the main principle of free clinics work is revealed on the level of economic situation. It can be noticed from two perspectives. From the first one, the main goal of free clinics is to provide poor or uninsured people with as many free services as possible. 54, 1 % of free clinics indicate that they do not make patients pay any fees for health care. 46 % of them point out that they charge only a small fee for patients (Darnell, 2008, p. 259 - 260). In addition, free clinics do not bill their patients for services. Nevertheless, there remains a question “How do these clinics manage to be economically stable, if they do not gain any profit from the patients?” It can be easily defined with the help of analysis of the second perspective of their economic work. Free clinics rely mostly on private sources of funding for their operating budget. Only 26 % of clinics indicate that they receive revenues from governmental sources. In addition, free clinics “stay afloat” as they are based on the enthusiasm of their workers, who work as volunteers (Darnell, 2008, p. 259 - 260).
Special Needs of Population Satisfied by Free Clinics
The analysis of free clinics’ procedures and economic peculiarities prove that they satisfy special needs of the U.S. population (poor or uninsured citizens). In general, these needs incorporate physical examinations, satisfied by almost 81, 4% of free clinics, chronic dissease management, provided in 73, 2% of clinics, acute care, peculiar for 62, 3% of clinics, medications, given in 86,5% of clinics, and gynecological care, available in 46,2% of clinics (Darell, 2008, p. 259). Although it seems that procedure of limited health care as well as limited economic resources do not give an opportunity to satisfy the needs of patients in the best way, in fact, the most striking feature of free clinics is qualitative care. For example, it has been proven that free clinics do better than health centers and private physicians in providing certain diagnostic procedures. In comparison, private clinics report that only 9% of physicians are able to get laboratory tests at a reduced cost, while free clinics claim that 80, 7% of their physicians directly provide laboratory services at no cost (Darnell, 2008, p. 261).
Benefits of Free Clinics
The main benefit of free clinics is the expansion of community-based primary care capacity for low-income people. For example, if to focus on an example of Lyon Park, it becomes clear that it provides patients with “high-volume, high-quality care with low overhead and per-visit costs” (Brennan, 2013, p. 111). If to take the whole country, it means that free clinics perform an essential goal of health care availability. From the perspective of the current situation in the U.S., it is necessary to mention that free clinics go hand in hand with modern reforms of the health care system. In fact, they are a crucial part of making the U.S. an actual democratic center where everyone can receive health care on an equal basis.
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Free clinics are a very necessary part of health care system in the U.S. The main reason for it is their ability to provide the poor and uninsured citizens with qualitative health care. A secret of their success lies in the main principle of the organization of their work - to get the greatest output with allocating the least amount of resources. In addition, all workers of free clinics are true enthusiasts, whose main objective is to treat poor people, but not to make a fortune on them.
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