As I read Dr. Mehmet Oz’s article “Enough Is Enough,” I was reminded of the work he has done with the National Association of Free Clinics (NAFC) and the stories of uninsured patients that I, as executive director of NAFC, hear on a daily basis. Reading through some of the comments on Dr. Oz’s piece, however, I felt compelled to clarify a widely held misconception about those who use free clinics.
About 83% of NAFC’s patients come from a working household but cannot afford health insurance. We have had patients who were working multiple jobs but had to choose between the high cost of insurance payments or putting food on the table for their family. While there are patients who lost their jobs in the bad economy and come to our clinics for care, a large majority of our patients are actually underinsured or uninsured, but not unemployed.
Our free and charitable clinics work daily throughout the nation to try and meet the overwhelming needs of the uninsured population. Our clinics do so with little to no state or federal funding but through volunteers and generous donations. It is truly the story of neighbors helping neighbors, hope for the uninsured and volunteerism at its best.
Nicole Lamoureux-Busby, NAFC Executive Director, ALEXANDRIA, VA.