In the past, free clinics have been used to serve community members without insurance. Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, this focus has started to shift, and these clinics are now being frequented by lower-income patients who have health insurance coverage but are forced to pay high co-pays and deductibles. Low-income patients with a deductible of $1,000 or more often struggle to pay causing them to turn to free clinics to save on their healthcare services and necessary medications.
In addition to cost issues, access is also a problem which is sending more people to free clinics. Some patients visit these medical facilities because they are not able to get appointments with providers. This is especially problematic in rural areas of the United States
These findings were published in Kaiser Heath News on April 19, 2016.