How Federally Qualified Health Centers Work
One of the most talked about topics these days is personal healthcare, and what is available for people. Recent statistics have shown that nearly 50 million Americans don’t have health coverage and almost 25 million were under-insured. In 2008 one year of health coverage for a family ran employers $12,680. And the people who are at an increasing rate of being under-insured aren’t people with little or no income but are actually middle to upper-class families who have seen their insurance cost go up while their coverage has decreased. One solution to help people with their healthcare dilemmas is Federally Qualified Health Centers.
What are Federally Qualified Health Centers?
Federally Qualified Health Centers were developed to meet the needs of communities who had health care services that were minimal or nonexistent all together. The centers are opened to anyone regardless of their income or if they have any healthcare coverage. A secondary purpose of the centers beyond providing personal healthcare is to work with the local community it is a part of to improve the health services in their area. The operational costs for these centers can be provided through private funding, but are usually supported by federal grants.
How Do Health Centers Become Federally Qualified?
In order to become a Federally Qualified Health Center, there are some basic criteria that need to be met. Some of those things include:
· Have established relationships with hospitals in the area which also allow 24 hour admitting privileges.
· Employ board certified, or certification eligible doctors.
· Have a Board of Directors that is made up of at least 51% of its members being active patients in the health center.
· Serve a geographic area, or population that is has been determined to be underserved.
· Submit comprehensive health plans for the area you serve.
Payments and Fees to Use FQHC
Federally Qualified Health Centers has an open door policy for people regardless of their health insurance status. Patients pay based on a sliding scale and the size of their family plus their income. This helps the centers to provide quality care on a financially equitable scale for the community at large, and for people who might not otherwise receive good service. Once a patient is seen there are specific guidelines and policies for fqhc billing on the part of the clinic, and they can help the patient walk through these process as needed.
Benefits of Qualified Centers
There are a number of benefits to becoming a qualified center. Some of those include:
· Grant funding.
· Cost-based reimbursement through Medicare.
· Access to National Health Services Corps and Vaccine for Children Program.
· Medical Malpractice coverage.
· Eligibility for other federal grants and programs.
With a study by the Commonwealth Fund citing that 45% of adults have a hard time paying their medical bills it is easy to see why healthcare is such a hot topic. This is not an issue that will be solved quickly because of the complexities, but places like the FQHCs are a huge help to society in the meantime.