Health insurance changes affecting free medical clinics

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The KennyBurkett Clinic of Lagrange is closing because the founder says there’s no longer enough need for free healthcare services within the community.

That’s because the Affordable Care Act and Healthy Indiana Plan, otherwise known as HIP 2.0, provide free and low-cost medical insurance to many across the state. However, the programs aren’t helping many of the patients of Matthew 25, Fort Wayne’s free medical clinic.

“We’ve been tracking it fairly closely here at the clinic,” said Matthew 25 Health and Dental Clinic CEO Mark Dixon. “On average we see about 40 patients a day on the medical side. Statistically, over the last 15 days we’ve seen about two people a day that have qualified for either HIP 2.0, the Indiana program, or the Affordable Care Act.”

Despite the Affordable Care Act Matthew 25 served five percent more patients in 2014 and saw its biggest month this March. Matthew 25 also provides dental services and most government subsidized insurance covers little or no dental care.

The agency’s medical director said there are a number of reasons their patients aren’t signing up for federal or state programs.

“There are barriers that prevent folks from signing up, even if they might otherwise qualify,” said Dr. Brad Isbister, Medical Director for Matthew 25. “That can be language and literacy barriers, homelessness and the lack of an address, or contact point can make it very difficult. Mental illness, you can imagine, would make it difficult for people to follow through with these things. And then there’s a large group of non-citizens.”

Kevin Shane, who was born in Jamaica and became a citizen by marriage, said he struggles to understand U.S. health coverage options. “It’s a hard process for a foreigner,” he admitted.

 

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