Health Partners expands eligibility requirements

TROY – In a continuing effort to provide local residents with timely and quality medical care, the directors of Health Partners Free Clinic (HPFC), have expanded their patient care eligibility requirements. The move stems from a long-term strategic plan to continue providing free medical care as the reforms associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unfold.

Now eligible for care are Miami County residents who are insured, but unable to afford the deductible and co-pay costs beyond their monthly premiums. Also eligible are new Medicaid recipients who are unable to meet with a medical provider for nine to 12 months.

According to HPFC Executive Director Justin Coby, the Board of Directors recently completed a strategic plan process that will carry the organization through 2018. The Clinic has been the lone provider of free medical healthcare in Miami County for the past 16 years.

Coby said this segment of the patient population continues to increase as laws for health care insurance change. There are many unique situations for these patients, but the bottom line is they still cannot afford their health care out-of-pocket expenses.

“These folks are not the impoverished, but rather those in the lower- to middle-income scenarios. These are the start-up entrepreneurs who have to find private health insurance for the first time; or the middle-aged student pursuing education for their second career; or the newly Medicaid eligible who are unable to be placed with a new doctor for nine to 12 months.”

“Our demographic is changing in the ACA era and Health Partners has done an excellent job of maintaining our flexibility in order to meet their needs,” Coby added.

The Board recently retained Hiller and Servaites Consulting, whose team has a collective 40 years of experience in the free health clinic sector to assist in development of the new strategic plan. According to Coby, their findings indicate the Clinic is still on the right track.

“Health Partners has determined beyond any doubt that our current free clinic model is appropriate for our community today and throughout the next three dynamic years of healthcare to come with or without Affordable Care Act reforms,” he said.

The Clinic also made a minor wording change to their mission statement reflecting the new circumstances, having found that even with insurance, patients remain underserved – they may still lack access to primary care medical offices. The new mission statement now reads, “To provide access to free quality health care for uninsured and underserved residents of Miami County.”

Coby said the underserved population in the new statement includes those that have insurance but cannot afford the premiums and related costs of their plan. The definition also includes those that have affordable insurance, but cannot gain timely access to quality healthcare with their current insurance.

In 2015, the clinic treated 906 unduplicated patients, which equated to 3,359 physician appointments. The Clinic also provided 2,223 patient lab diagnoses; and 8,654 clinic-dispensed free prescriptions valued at more than $1 million. Overall, the clinic provided $4.32 in medical services for every $1 spent.

Coby said, “The vision of the organization is that one day the residents of Miami County will have access to quality healthcare, regardless of the ability to pay. The Clinic plans to remain open until the day that this vision is achieved.”

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