Community Health Centers Could Cut Costs, Report Finds
Community health centers provide health care services to 16 million U.S. residents, save the health care system between $9.9 billion and $17.6 billion, and contribute $12.6 billion to the economy, according to a report prepared by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, the National Association of Community Health Centers and Capital Link, the Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News reports.
Currently in the U.S. there are 1,100 such centers, which are not-for-profit, community-owned and federally funded.
The report states, "People who have a usual source of care but no health insurance actually receive more primary and preventive care than those who have insurance but no usual source of care." It continues, "Not surprisingly, those who have both fare best."
Legislation pending in Congress would reauthorize the program and also set funding targets that would increase access to health care through the centers for 30 million additional U.S. residents.
"Quite simply, community health centers are the best health care investment America can make," Stephen Petterson, senior health policy researcher at the Robert Graham Center, said. He added, "Medical expenses for their patients are 41% lower compared to patients seen elsewhere. ... Even to those of us who follow health care closely, the figures are stunning" (Collins, Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News, 8/7). The study is available online.