Free health clinic continues to accept working uninsured patient - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Free health clinic continues to accept working uninsured patients

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About 100,000 Louisiana residents have signed up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, according to a Louisiana Hospital Association report. That leaves one in five people in the state still lacking health coverage. The Calcasieu Community Clinic has its doors open to those who work but cannot afford insurance.

Every week, Calcasieu Community Clinic Executive Director Kayla Rigney and her staff welcome the working uninsured from every parish in Southwest Louisiana to get free quality health care. "They come in. They see the doctor. We have a pharmacy here. We prescribe medications," said Rigney.

Donations and volunteers fuel this service that fills the gap for people who cannot afford health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.  "We can catch those," said Rigney, "you do have to work to come here, but they just don't make enough money to hit the first tier of subsidies on healthcare.gov."

That amount equals just over $23,000 for a family of four. With Governor Bobby Jindal's refusal to expand Medicaid, Rigney says lots of patients are in the same boat as before - uninsured. The LHA report shows that most of those who signed up in Louisiana were simply switching plans. "What it looks like from the early statistics are that only about 1.5 percent of the 102,000 people who signed up through healthcare.gov were uninsured," said Rigney.

Clinical coordinator, Jean Kamla, says people who work at least 20 hours a week and fall into the income guidelines have access to primary care medical professionals at no charge. "They can come in for physicals, but then people can come in for anything that can be managed at home: diabetes, hypertension, asthma," said Kamla.

Medications and medical supplies are also available for free, as well as seminars to educate patients about healthy living. "We partner with the Dore Counseling Center at McNeese State University, and we offer periodic seminars at night for patients to come to to learn how to manage their stress and anxiety better," said Kamla. "We also have a great diabetes educator in the community that comes here."

Rigney says as long as there is a need and community support, the Calcasieu Community Clinic doors will stay open to serve an underserved population.  

The Calcasieu Community Clinic is located on Sale Road in Lake Charles and sees patients on Thursday evenings.  Click here for more information or call the clinic at 337-478-8650.

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