If you are reading this, chances are you have health insurance, either through your employer or purchased through the Affordable Care Act. In that case, you do not need to turn to Cape Fear Clinic, which provides health care to those with Medicaid and, largely, those who cannot afford insurance of any kind.
So why should you care if the clinic exists? I can suggest two major reasons that our success should matter to you.
First, the economic reason - we provide high-quality care to low-income individuals in a much more cost-effective way than can a hospital emergency department, which is the default choice of the poor and uninsured. A typical ED visit, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, costs about $1,300.
Because of a law signed by Ronald Reagan in 1986, The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), anyone coming to an emergency department (ED) to be stabilized and treated must be treated, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Ultimately, the cost of caring for these patients may be passed on to insured patients in higher premiums and hospital costs.
Cape Fear Clinic, on the other hand, can provide non-emergency care for an individual for about $150 per quarter. And when we transition that person from someone who uses the ED as a source of primary care to someone who has a medical home at the clinic, we change their habits. Working with the individual to focus on prevention and wellness, we help him or her manage chronic diseases and respond quickly to the onset of an acute illness. That new patient mindset contributes to lower costs of treatment and better outcomes in the future.
The second reason Cape Fear Clinic should matter to you is because we contribute to the well-being of the community, and indirectly, to its economic health. Healthy people are happier and more productive. They are also more reliable employees.
Would it surprise you to know that most of our patients are not, as some assume, lay-abouts who simply need to get a job? The majority of those who come to Cape Fear Clinic are the working poor - some of them undocumented - who cannot afford to purchase insurance on the open market.
If your uninsured employees are patients at Cape Fear Clinic or another similar clinic, they can get medical help in a timely fashion instead of waiting for disaster to strike. They are partners with the clinic in managing their health, so they are likely to have fewer emergencies which force them to take time off work.
Cape Fear Clinic also provides mental health care, a valuable commodity in any community, but especially in our area, which is seeing ever-increasing mental health problems due to opioid addiction.
And finally, last year, our onsite, full-service pharmacy provided our patients almost 13,000 prescriptions valued at more than $5 million, everything from oral diabetic medication to medications that can cure Hepatitis C, all for free or very inexpensively.
Treating the most vulnerable in our area at a very low cost is the gift Cape Fear Clinic provides, helping our community become healthier, happier and more productive. And that should matter to you.
Jessica Maurer - Feb 18, 2019
Christina Haley O'Neal - Feb 18, 2019
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