Survey: Uninsured Diabetics Increasingly Turning to Free Clinics and Community Health Centers

This press release is an announcement submitted by Direct Relief International, and was not written by Diabetes Health.

The increase in uninsured patients with diabetes visiting nonprofit safety-net clinics sites is especially concerning given the dramatically higher costs associated with treating this population.

Sep 17, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (August 26, 2009) - The nation's nonprofit community health centers and free clinics saw a 13 percent increase in uninsured patients with diabetes seeking care during the first six months of 2009 versus the same period in 2008, according to the results of a national survey released today by humanitarian medical aid organization Direct Relief International. 

The increase in uninsured patients with diabetes visiting these nonprofit safety-net clinics sites is especially concerning given the dramatically higher costs associated with treating this population. According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures that are approximately 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes.

"These findings confirm what we knew intuitively - in general, that the economic downturn has created difficulties nationwide for a lot of people and stretched the network of nonprofit health centers and clinics that provide a key point of access for patients who need care," said Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe.  "But, the findings also define a specific problem - real patients in need trying to manage their diabetes at specific places - so we and others can lean in and help."

Other findings of the survey include:

  • A solid majority of all diabetic patients (59.5 percent) seen at the surveyed sites lacked either private or government-sponsored medical insurance, compared to an overall uninsured rate of 45.2 percent among total patients;
  • 14.6 percent of all patients receiving care at surveyed sites were diabetic, an increase of 9.2 percent from 2008 and well above the national percentage of the population that is diabetic (5.8 percent,according to the American Diabetes Association);
  • A 7.9 percent increase in total patients seen by surveyed sites.

Direct Relief, with assistance from the National Association of Community Health Centers and the National Association of Free Clinics, conducted the survey from July 7 to July 24 via a Web-based tool. The results reflect data from 562 community health centers and free clinics from all 50 states that collectively provided medical care for 4.3 million patients in the first six months of 2009.

In response to the survey findings, Direct Relief has allocated 5 million insulin syringes and pen needles donated by medical technology company BD, which stepped in to help low-income, uninsured patients with diabetes during the economic recession.  "BD's support here is just terrific," said Tighe. 

* * *

Direct Relief International press release

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Posted by Anonymous on 22 September 2009

People who suffer from this terrible disease have a right to health care and this article represents a travesty of justice in this country and a flagrant human rights violation. We need Single-Payer reform now.

New Hampshire Nurse

Posted by Anonymous on 23 September 2009

I wonder if Lilly will be stepping up to the plate and donating insulin?

Posted by Anonymous on 24 September 2009

The high cost of health care is largely a result of government intervention in the health care industry. If there weren't so many rules, regulations, and restrictions on insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, employers who provide insurance plans for their employees, market forces will allow insulin and other medications to become much cheaper. Health care is not a right, it is a need. What about the rights of the doctors, other health care providers, and pharmaceutical companies? If health care is a right, then by that definition, all doctors and nurses are thereby slaves to the people. I believe if Americans want to redistribute wealth in the form of single payer health care, they better be prepared for rationing and an overall poorer quality of health care, and decrease in innovation and production of new therapies.

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