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Free Clinics Clients Drop But Uninsured Still Exist

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WKMS News
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  Rural free health clinics are seeing a drop in clients as the Medicaid rolls grow in Kentucky thanks to expanded coverage. But, some people  are falling into a gap where opting out of health insurance and paying a penalty is the most affordable option.  

Marshall County Free Clinic just closed their doors and Chairman Justin Lamb couldn’t be more pleased.

It's "mission accomplished, Obamacare ran us out of business due to the reduced number of patients. All but five of the clients have gained access to insurance.” Lamb said.

In Murray, the Angel’s Community Clinic sees around 130 clients from its peak at around 500. Executive Director Sherry Crittenden, says the expansion covers families up to 138% of the federal poverty line. That’s less than $35,000 for a family of four. Crittenden says a gap exists  for families up to the 200th percentile, and these are the poor.

“Their deductibles are so high, their premiums are high, out of pocket is high. So they are paying money they don’t have, these are out poor people, they are paying money they don’t have, for insurance which  gets them very little.” Crittenden said. 

Crittenden says paying the government fee of an annual two percent of the household income or a onetime $325 fee is the most affordable option for this group. She expects clinic numbers will increase again as they decide to drop their insurance, and the doors will remain open for them. 

Nicole Erwin is a Murray native and started working at WKMS during her time at Murray State University as a Psychology undergraduate student. Nicole left her job as a PTL dispatcher to join the newsroom after she was hired by former News Director Bryan Bartlett. Since, Nicole has completed a Masters in Sustainable Development from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia where she lived for 2 1/2 years.
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