It’s National Health Center Week. As healthcare has become more and more expensive, the need for low-cost healthcare has increased. Many people living in rural parts of the country have very limited options to see a doctor, and depending on their insurance status the number of available “in-network” healthcare providers is even lower. Many people do not regularly see their doctor, only seeking care when a more serious condition arises. It can be a stressful situation to be uninsured and have an unforeseen medical problem come up — especially during the ongoing pandemic. This week is meant to celebrate and raise awareness of local community owned and operated clinics providing high quality, cost effective, accessible care to more than 29 million Americans.
Community health centers have been vital to public health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary source of care for many low-income populations and vulnerable communities by providing free screenings for the areas they serve. People of color represent greater shares of vaccinations at health centers compared to nationally reported data. Community health centers are also able to provide masks to low-income and unhoused people to continue to slow the spread of the coronavirus and the swiftly evolving variants.
Independent abortion clinics are community-based reproductive health clinics. As with other community health centers, these clinics are staffed by highly-trained healthcare professionals who provide essential healthcare services — often to people with the fewest resources. Independent clinics serve three out of every five patients who have an abortion in the U.S. and are among the most vulnerable to harassment, violence, and legislation intended to shutter clinic doors and make abortion inaccessible for those who need them. Community reproductive health clinics must also contend with fraudulent “crisis pregnancy centers” — fake clinics that appear to be legitimate health centers, but have a harmful agenda: to shame, demoralize, and pressure patients out of getting an abortion, and to spread frightening misinformation about abortion, birth control, and sexual health. To avoid deceitful crisis pregnancy centers, abortionfinder.org lists over 700 verified abortion providers.
One of the most visited areas of the NeedyMeds website is our clinics database. We list three different models of clinics on NeedyMeds.org:
- Free clinics – provide services at no cost to the patient;
- Low-cost clinics – usually have a low flat-fee for all patients or types of visit;
- Sliding-scale clinics – the price is based on the patient’s ability to pay, usually based on their income/family size as it corresponds to the federal poverty level.
- women’s health;
- family planning;
- health screenings;
- pharmacy services;
- and more.
Each clinic has its own hours, may only serve select towns or counties, and has their own set of eligibility requirements. In most cases these requirements deal with insurance, income, and residence status. Some clinics require that the patient have no insurance whatsoever while others work with both the uninsured and underinsured. Many clinics accept patients on Medicare and Medicaid — but not all. Sliding-scale clinics generally have an income requirement based on the federal poverty level, making the clinic only available to those under a certain annual income. There are also many clinics that have no income requirements.
We list over 19,000 clinics on NeedyMeds, making it easy to find one near you. From the Free Clinics page, select Medical, Dental, Mental Health, or Substance Abuse clinic depending on your needs, and then select your state or enter your ZIP code to find a clinic in your area. A list of local clinics will appear with contact information, as well as eligibility requirements, services, and hours. You can print out a selection of clinics or the entire page of clinics from your search. We encourage users to check the clinic’s website for any additional information. You can also get information from the toll-free NeedyMeds helpline at 1-800-503-6897, available 9am to 5pm Eastern Time Monday through Friday.