The University of Houston College of Medicine plans to open a low-cost direct primary care clinic for the city’s uninsured population, thanks to a million-dollar donation received Wednesday.
The Cullen Trust for Health Care made the donation with the aim of improving access to primary care for vulnerable residents. The clinic is expected to open in the fall of 2021.
“A direct primary care practice will add value to the local health care ecosystem by addressing one of our city’s most pressing issues: the lack of a comprehensive primary care system for patients. uninsured people, ”said Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston, in a report.
The clinic will be the first in a planned network of direct primary care facilities in the Greater Houston area.
Patients will pay a monthly clinic subscription for services such as primary care, telehealth, basic office procedures, lab tests at cost, and access to drugs at discounted prices. Same day appointments will also be available.
The clinic’s direct primary care model is an alternative to fee-for-service care. Experts say more clinics are turning to this model to help uninsured populations as they reduce the economic burden on patients by charging low monthly fees. Direct primary care models also exclude third-party payers, thereby simplifying the process of providing care to physicians and patients.
“Within this framework, the physician is responsible for the health of his panel of members and will demonstrate the costs and long-term quality results.” Dr Stephen Spann, dean of UH College of Medicine since its founding in 2020, said in a statement.
The clinic will be located in southwest Houston, where up to one in three of Southside’s neighborhoods lived below the federal poverty line in 2019.
The clinic staff will be made up of faculty physicians from the UH College of Medicine. The clinic will also serve as a training site for UH medical professional students.
“We aim to improve the health of our patients by addressing their social determinants of health,” said Dr Omar Matuk-Villazon, director of the direct primary care clinic, in a statement.
About 22% of the population under the age of 65 in Harris County, where Houston is located, were uninsured in 2017, according to statistics from the Texas Medical Association. This percentage rose to over 25% in 2019, according to recent Census Bureau data.
Harris County’s uninsured rate was nearly 36% higher than the overall Texas uninsured rate in 2019 and 172% higher than the national percentage of uninsured Americans.
The Affordable Care Act gave states the ability to expand Medicaid in 2014. Texas is one of 12 states to further expand Medicaid.
At least 40% of Harris County were eligible for Medicaid in 2019. These residents were between the ages of 18 and 64 and lived at 138% or less of the poverty line.