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Free Clinics Now Providing Healthcare Solutions to the Uninsured
Date:10/9/2008

hat includes health care for everyone, concerned citizens need to find other solutions to provide the medically under-served with the health care services they desperately need. Volunteers in Medicine delivers on such solution."

The statistics are staggering; 47 million people in this country have no medical insurance. Another 25 million are underinsured, up 60% in just four years with middle and higher income families comprising most of that increase. The impact on the infrastructure of towns and cities is equally staggering. When people are injured or sick, they can't work, effecting employers and their ability to provide goods and services. When people postpone seeking medical care, their medical conditions get worse and more costly to treat. And without adequate health insurance, emergency rooms become the default. This is particularly difficult, as emergency departments have seen cuts in reimbursements, while at the same time ER visits are at record highs across the country. This creates a cost-shift, which means higher premiums for everyone.

Even if everyone were to become insured tomorrow, there is not enough current or future primary care capacity to provide health care to all Americans. Over one-third of active physicians are over age 55 and with many choosing early retirement, there will be a deficit of primary care physicians by 2020. Faced with lower reimbursement rates, excessive work loads, and rising medical school costs, fewer graduates are choosing primary care. "Empowering retired physicians to practice the 'pure medicine' they crave without the 'business' of medicine is the common sense approach that Volunteers in Medicine provides. This is one solution to improving the long term health of our country," continued Hamlin.

Some 313,000 of the active physician population are over 55. This means that 36% of active physicians are set to retire by 2020 while at the same time there are only 105,
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