Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), also generally known as Community Health Centers (CHC), are primary health care centers that are patient-directed and community-based. They are located in areas that are medically under-staffed in terms of health professionals and facilities. Guided by their design and mission, FQHCs are of importance to people with limited access to health care. Individuals can get access to high quality healthcare that is at par with what the able pay for.
Contrary to most private care centers, FQHCs give focus to low income individuals, immigrants, seasonal farm workers, the underinsured and uninsured, those living in public housing, and the homeless. They are non-profit organizations that are locally-based and governed by directors comprising of area volunteers. More than half of the board members use the health centers’ services besides having full authority of the centers’ operations.
Their services are available to all people and charge their services according to the approved sliding-fee scales that are determined by the community boards. The fee-scale is based on the patient’s income and family size and must comply with the requirements of section 330 program. Regardless of one’s ability to pay, none of the patients from the locality is denied access to health care. Although great for the community, this can make collections and billing a challenge for FQHCs. As a result, many of these entities seek out professional FQHC billing services to help collect billings and maximize revenue in a more timely manner.
Benefits of FQHCs to the Community
FQHCs are of great benefit to all Americans. In return for their efforts to providing health care for the less unfortunate, they get help from the government in form of cash grants, free malpractice coverage, and cost-based reimbursement for Medicaid patients. Some of their benefits to the people and society are such as:
- Since the health centers are community based organizations, people have the chance to direct their services, charges, as well as, other decisions that relate to clinic operations.
- The health centers turn to medical homes where the medically underserved can get attention from health professionals at all times.
- Patients with emergency cases do not need to visit hospitals. As a result, overcrowding in emergency rooms in hospitals is reduced and doctors can provide quality services.
- They reduce the number of insured people because they provide coverage assistance in conjunction with Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid enrollment.
- They lead to a reduced financial stress on deserving Americans due to the deductible waivers for their programs.
- Children who are uninsured have get access to free immunizations. Some of the immunizations are expensive and not all parents can afford to have their children immunized, but FQHCs come to their aid.
- Patients who access health care from the FQHCs can get referral rearrangements if they have serious health complications.
To learn more about role of FQHCs for community health clinics and medical centers, visit commonwealthfund.org.