An estimated 40 million people have lost work, along with their health insurance, since the global pandemic appeared in the U.S. earlier this year.
Many of these individuals will turn to Medicaid for health insurance needs. This federal and state-funded plan already provides health coverage to more than 20% of Americans. Administered by the states, Medicaid follows specific requirements from the federal government. Medicaid services range from preventative care to the treatment of chronic conditions to behavioral health care for low-income individuals and those with disabilities.
With this new reliance on Medicaid, many who are unemployed or working reduced hours will seek medical care through Federally Qualified Health Centers, otherwise known as FQHCs. FQHCs offer services typically given in an outpatient provider setting. FQHCs can include:
- Community Health Centers
- Migrant Health Centers
- Public Housing Primary Care Centers
- Outpatient Health Facilities or Programs a Tribal Organization Operates
Some associate FQHCs with limited offerings or outdated facilities – this is a falsehood. FQHCs undergo a certification process and must adhere to an ongoing quality assurance program and meet health and safety requirements.
The benefits of FQHCs include eligibility for additional federal grants and programs; access to Children’s Health Insurance and Medicaid enrollment services; and eligibility to buy prescription and nonprescription medications via a federal drug pricing program. Such centers also allow patients to combine primary care visits with other services like dentistry, optical care, and treatment for substance abuse.
“Increases in Medicaid enrollment should drive more insurers to see FQHCs as viable options to build their health care networks. In spite of millions of job losses, people still have medical needs, which these clinics can respond to. Insurers aligning themselves with FQHCs will fill in the gaps for millions who have lost their commercial health coverage,” said Sarah.