As more and more people find themselves without a job — and the health insurance they were used to having — doctor’s visits and general wellness care drop to the bottom of the priority list.
This is a mistake, said Californians for Patient Care President Carmella Gutierrez.
“It is vitally important to have the right care at the right time,” she said.
Californians for Patient Care is an independent nonprofit organization that aims to help people find low and no-cost healthcare services in their communities through the Web site, www.calpatientcare.org.
“What we’ve found when it comes to healthcare is it is a great equalizer. Unemployment and not having insurance is very high in Stanislaus County,” Gutierrez said. “People are struggling to find a roof over their heads and now they have no health insurance.”
The need for low-cost healthcare in Stanislaus and Merced counties has led Golden Valley Health Centers, a nonprofit heathcare organization, to open a second Turlock location in 2009 and to break ground on a new comprehensive medical facility for Merced area seniors earlier this month.
“A lot of people who have recently lost their jobs don’t really know where to go (for healthcare),” said Golden Valley Marketing Coordinator Lisa Baladad.
Golden Valley offers services on a sliding scale fee, based on income. A minimum fee of $30 to $60 includes a doctor’s visit and any lab work needed. The income-based fee scale allows those without insurance to afford needed medical care.
“Thirty-nine percent of our total population is patients without insurance,” Baladad said.
Golden Valley Heath Centers is just one of the 27 Stanislaus County low-cost clinics listed on the www.calpatientcare.org Web site. The site also includes information about healthcare reform and the many changes in store. Tips on how to find the right health insurance policy and up-to-date information on health topics, such as diabetes, obesity and the flu, are also available at calpatientcare.org.
“We’ve done the legwork for people; we’ve done the research,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez also recommends taking time during the holiday season to ask family members about their health history.
“A (healthcare) provider who has a health history and family health history can provide a better diagnosis,” she said. “You’re giving valuable information to your provider and taking charge of your health.”
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.