Diabetes and high blood pressure are two chronic health conditions that need constant monitoring. Many of the uninsured who count on free clinics in Michigan have these types of serious health problems. Having a chronic health condition without access to health care services is a dangerous combination, often resulting in consequences that last a lifetime. For instance, diabetics that put off medical care or skip medications sometimes end up on permanent dialysis or lose a foot or a leg because of long-term uncontrolled sugar levels.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has a nonprofit mission to provide all Michigan residents with access to quality health care services, regardless of ability to pay. That’s why we are supporting free clinics across the state with more than $1 million in grant funding. The Blues have provided $7 million in grants since 2005 to help free clinics with daily operations and to enhance the services they provide.
Free clinics in Michigan provide many uninsured residents a valuable and rare opportunity to consult with doctors and nurses and learn how to manage their health conditions through medical and non-medical means. Helping them manage disease through regular patient visits, education and free medications reduces expensive emergency room visits and improves overall health.
According to a patient at the Traverse Health Clinic in Traverse City, “My health is a mess. I receive primary care services, am referred to a heart specialist, and receive medications, dental, vision and counseling services at the clinic. Otherwise, I would have nowhere to go to manage my chronic illnesses.”
According to Reuters Health, uninsured people suffer from more severe health issues and die sooner than those with insurance. Prevention and early treatment saves lives and cuts health care costs. Because they cannot afford it, the uninsured often put off or go without seeing a physician for conditions that can often be treated in the early stages.
Free clinics are the unsung heroes of the safety net. They help people who have nowhere else to turn. Blue Cross recently funded 53 clinics across the state so the uninsured have access to health care.
Photo by WBUR