Staggering Increase in Charitable Health Care Needs

Staggering Increase in Charitable Health Care Needs

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Ed Yeates ReportingThe high cost of health care and insurance, coupled with economic woes and unemployment, is forcing more Salt Lake residents to seek out charitable services.

The statistics released today show a staggering 304 percent increase over a seven year period in just one group of neighborhood clinics.

At one Intermountain Health Care clinic on Salt Lake's west side, more and more residents are demanding charitable care. So much so, the clinic has had to expand dramatically. A small, cramped room was the original clinic. Now, with the expansion, it's more than doubled in size.

35-year old Juanita Huertero is among many struggling with jobs and an economy that has turned health care into a luxury beyond her means.

Juanita Huertero, Clinic Patient: "I'm currently getting Medicaid and at the end of the month I've gotten a job and at the end of the month they'll be cutting me off again - so I'll be back to no insurance because it's too high."

On a sliding scale, that which she can afford, Juanita now relies on this clinic for treatment of her chronic bronchitis and asthma.

IHC claims the demand for charitable services at these neighborhood centers has increased a whopping 304 percent over the past seven years - jumping 27 percent in only one year.

Wes Thompson, IHC Community Health Partnerships: "The soft economy and the loss of jobs, plus employers putting greater burdens of health insurance premiums onto the backs of the employees and even electing not to cover their employees for health insurance, plus a lot of immigrants coming to our state."

Despite her predicament, Juanita considers herself lucky.

Juanita Huertero: "I know people that can't even afford to come to clinics. They just do without or they try herbal remedies and sometimes they don't work, and I don't know, it's really scary."

Scary for providers too. The one year cost for charitable care at these clinics is now exceeding 41-million dollars and rising!

Charitable care at these clinics is granted on a case by case basis to families with medical need, regardless of their ability to pay.

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