Study Finds Georgia’s Charitable Clinics Are A Great Investment
There is “strong economic evidence to support investment” in Georgia’s charitable clinics, according to a new study conducted by the Economic Evaluation Research Group at the University of Georgia College of Public Health.
The study, commissioned by the Georgia Charitable Care Network with support from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, revealed significant positive returns on investment and savings in three distinct areas.
1.) Direct costs of treatment compared to other payers. Treating hypertensive patients in GCCN clinics is significantly more cost effective than other payers. For the same care delivered in GCCN clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers were found to be almost 2 times as expensive; Medicaid was 2.5 times as expensive and out of pocket/uninsured costs were 4 times as expensive.
2.) Cost avoidance in the reduction of emergency room visits. For every 100 patients that visit a GCCN clinic annually, $50,000 is saved in avoided visits to emergency rooms.
3.) Cost avoidance in the treatment of chronic disease patients. Management of chronic disease patients in GCCN clinics reduces the need for treatment of coronary heart events and stroke. For every $1 spent by GCCN clinics, there is an average savings of $1.60.
GCCN clinics’ record for achieving significant positive returns on investment – in terms of direct savings, cost avoidance, more efficient use of resources and health improvement – confirm their value for patients, policy makers and taxpayers.
Because the study did not take into account the indirect economic benefits derived from reduced unemployment, lost work hours and productivity, the findings make an even stronger case for future funding of this important part of the healthcare safety net system.
About the Georgia Charitable Care Network
Providers of charitable care are uniquely benevolent. When GCCN was founded in 2003 as the Georgia Free Clinic Network, the leaders envisioned a network of compassionate care givers brought together to create a voice more powerful than could be realized in a local community, which ultimately would create a high performing safety net in Georgia. GCCN advocates on behalf of its members on all issues affecting them. We provide timely networking opportunities. We work with communities interested in starting a clinic. We solicit funding sources to distribute to members. We connect donated medications and goods between the donors and clinics. We investigate new technology issues, such as the most effective software for clinic needs. We conduct conferences and meetings for clinic staff and volunteers—all to help our members serve their patients in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Rome’s Free Clinic: Community Taking Charge
By Benita M. Dodd
Dr. Leonard Reeves shares an experience that epitomizes his role as president of the Faith and Deeds Community Health free clinic in Rome, Ga.
A forklift operator visited the emergency room a few years ago.
“By the time I got to him he was already admitted,” recalls Reeves, a family practice physician. “He was diabetic and in renal failure. His kidneys were gone – in his 30s!”
The man knew he had been diabetic since he was a teenager but did nothing about it.
“A man who had been working every day did not have any insurance and did not have enough money to go to the doctor,” says Reeves. “When he left the hospital he was on dialysis and had half his foot removed because of a big, ugly ulcer. He was put on Medicaid.
“It would have cost a lot less to have treated his diabetes and hypertension over the years than making him a ward of the state. He couldn’t drive a forklift anymore because of safety regulations.
“And he’s going to be on dialysis three times a week for the rest of his life … which won’t be that long.”
Low-income, uninsured Georgians caught in the gap between Medicaid and the ObamaCare exchange subsidies often have no primary care physician and are unable to afford to visit one. But they do have health problems.
When they break a leg or collapse, they can go to the ER, which must accept all comers. But what happens once the hospital discharges them? What happens when low-income individuals lose their jobs, their insurance and prescription coverage for chronic conditions? The diabetic who tries to ration her insulin may end up with an amputation and organ failure, costing the system far more than her insulin. The homeless person with hypertension could have a stroke or heart attack, requiring hospitalization far costlier than a monthly prescription.