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Undocumented Latinos Using Bodega Clinics

December 9, 2013
Plain English Version

Many lower-income people do not have health insurance

‘Bodega Clinicas’ serve mostly low-income Latinos in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Miami. Patients pay in cash. The amounts are affordable. They are open late in the evening so people coming off work shifts can go to them.

In many ways they are like the clinics in the lands from which the people have come.

They are a worry to public health officials. Officials cannot really check out the quality of the provided services. These clinics are not licensed and do not report to the government. Most do not take insurance. Officials say the clinic doctors appear to have medical licenses. Most are not board certified. Most do not have admitting privileges at area hospitals.

Prices are low. A doctor’s visit may cost only $20 to $40. A heart exam can be as little as $120. One advertises a colonoscopy for $700.

Treatments include injections of hypertension drugs and  intravenous vitamins. These are methods of giving medication that are not commonly used in the U.S. They dispense more antibiotics than most doctors here.

Closing  down these clinics does not make sense.

In some sense, they are a resource that will be needed in the future. Most legal residents and millions of others are eligible for Obamacare. However, there are not enough primary care physicians to treat all of those who are or will be eligible. This shortage of providers will be especially felt in lower-income neighborhoods. Officials hope to bring clinics such as the Bodega Clinics into the mainstream of health care.

Some cases cannot be treated at the clinics. These patients are referred to general practioners. And of course serious cases, such as cancer, may drive a patient to obtain insurance and go to a large hospital.

Source: The New York Times                                                                                              January 12, 2013

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