The latest U.S. Census report concluded that there are 46.3 million uninsured Americans. These individuals and the millions more who are underinsured are unable to pay for comprehensive and preventive care, which means they often have to depend on charity in order to get help.
One such charity is the National Association of Free Clinics (NAFC), who MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has been raising money to support. Starting yesterday, NAFC opened a two-day free clinic in Kansas City, and thousands of people have been attending to get care they otherwise could not afford. The Kansas City Star highlighted some of the stories of patients who attended seeking care:
More than 1,600 volunteers are helping with the Kansas City clinic, including more than 100 doctors and nurse practitioners. People seeking free health care waited in a lobby and then moved in groups up an escalator to the main hall. After checking in, they sat in a waiting area until their numbers were called:
• A 24-year-old college student who had been dropped by her mother’s insurance.
• A factory worker laid off in August, worried about his blood pressure and the lingering effects of an injury.
• A part-time bartender with a history of health problems and no health insurance.
The bartender, Kelly Barnhart, 37, of Kansas City, Kan., had strokes in 1991 and 2003 and has been diagnosed with osteoporosis. She hasn’t been to a doctor’s office in six years; she usually goes to hospital emergency rooms for care. She should be taking medications but says she can’t afford them. “I want to get checked because I haven’t for so long,” said Barnhart, who walked in without an appointment. “I’m worried about a stroke coming back. I don’t want another one.”
Last night, Olbermann interviewed NAFC executive director Nicole Lamoureux, who pointed out that 83 percent of her patients are employed. She encouraged “every member of Congress to come to our free clinics” to witness the health care crisis first hand. Watch it:
It should be noted that nearly a third of adults under the age of 65 in Kansas City are uninsured. Yet Missourian Sen. Kit Bond (R) continues to obstruct any efforts towards health care reform, recently calling the health care bill a “disaster” without offering any meaningful alternative.
As ThinkProgress has covered before, these free clinics have appeared all over the country. Last month, 1,500 Arkansans lined up in a single day for free care at a clinic in Little Rock, and thousands of Texans attended a free clinic in Texas last September.