A community health center (CHC), is a community-based and patient-directed organization that provides primary care for a large number of low-income patients often located in medically underserved areas. CHCs fill gaps in and reduce the disparity of care, by providing high-quality health care for approximately 22 million people. The need for CHCs is apparent, with a 64% growth from 2000 to 2012 (700 to 1198 centers). There has also been a corresponding increase in patients, with about 10 million more patients using CHCs today than in 2001.
According to healthcare.gov, “If you can’t afford any health plan, you can get low-cost health care at a nearby community health center.” CHCs are located in both urban and rural areas and provide:
- Prenatal care
- Baby shots
- General primary care and referrals to specialized care, including mental health, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS
These services are primarily provided to patients at more than 9,000 centers. Those using the services listed above include:
- 1 in 7 Medicaid beneficiaries
- 1 in 7 uninsured persons
- 1 in 5 low income, uninsured
- 1 in 3 individuals below poverty
- 1 in 3 minority individuals below poverty
- 1 in 3 children below poverty
- 1 in 7 rural Americans
A health center is either federally funded through a grant or does not receive funding but is certified as a CHC. They are funded by either federal, state, or local grants and/or Medicaid, “which accounted for 39% of the $15 billion in total revenue clinics received in 2012 (Modern Healthcare).”
The Need For CHCs
The first community health centers were launched in 1965 “as a small demonstration program as part of the President Johnson’s Office of Economic Opportunity. With roots in both the civil rights movement and the War on Poverty, the earliest health centers had as their mission to change the health and lives of their communities’ residents (Chronicles).” The future of CHCs is uncertain with the possibility of a change in funding in FY15, unless legislation is proposed to renew the current funding levels.
Need to Find a CHC? There’s an App for that!
The need for CHCs will continue and as part of Segue’s interest in health IT, consumer engagement, and mobile technology, we have developed an application that is now available in the App Store and on Google Play for download. With this app you can :
- Have up-to-date information from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Pinpoint the nearest CHC based on current location and get contact information