Even though more than 300 of our patients have become insured, patient visits remain steady and are expected to increase by the end of the year. About 20 percent of the 1,600 patients we approached about insurance eligibility qualified for Medicaid, and though saddened to leave the compassionate and quality care of the free clinic, at least have the peace of mind that their extended medical needs are covered.
Only a handful of patients purchased private health plans through the state health exchange. When working with patients, Kathryn Kinasewitz, an administrative assistant at the Boehringer Ingelheim AmeriCares Free Clinic of Danbury, found that even the least expensive plan was cost prohibitive.
“We have patients earning less than $20,000 a year in one of the most expensive counties in the U.S., so there is no wiggle room in their budgets for the added expense,” she said.
Clinic visits are already up this year in Norwalk and Danbury, and Stamford has seen more than 250 new patients since opening in January.
“Considering an estimated 170,000 Connecticut residents remain uninsured, this is no surprise,” said AmeriCares Free Clinics Executive Director Karen Gottlieb.
“With an already stretched health care system, the addition of tens of thousands of newly insured will make care for the uninsured increasingly hard to find. For these patients, we will be there.”