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“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The New York City Free Clinic (NYCFC) opened in March 2002 to help serve the healthcare needs of the nearly one in four New Yorkers lacking health insurance. The NYCFC began as a partnership between New York University School of Medicine and the Institute for Family Health that to this day remains committed to providing this much needed care to the uninsured, homeless, and disenfranchised of greater New York.
The NYCFC believes that high-quality healthcare is the right of all individuals, families, and communities, and that such care must be provided regardless of socioeconomic or health status. The only criterion to receive care at the NYCFC is that one be uninsured.
The NYCFC provides at no cost to its patients the full range of healthcare services, including primary care, specialty referrals, counseling, and patient education. The NYCFC provides prescription drugs at a significantly reduced cost to the patient. The NYCFC also provides free crucial social services, such as screening and registration for government health insurance and entrance into job placement and training programs.
While providing essential healthcare, the NYCFC serves as a key access point for uninsured New Yorkers into government insurance programs. The NYCFC screens all patients for Medicare, Medicaid, and Family and Child Health Plus eligibility. When patients are eligible, the clinic facilitates the application process to ensure successful enrollment. If patients are not able to enroll in these government programs, the NYCFC provides free health services as well as helps transition patients into other programs that can better provide long-term and continuous care.
Finally, the NYCFC endeavors to nurture the longstanding traditions of volunteerism and community service among healthcare professionals. The NYCFC is an all-volunteer group of medical students, undergraduates, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. The NYCFC strives to introduce the newest generation of healthcare professionals to the barriers associated with access to care for millions of New Yorkers, and to foster a collaborative team-oriented approach to comprehensively addressing the needs of the underserved and uninsured.
The NYCFC differs sharply from other New York area low-income clinics in two crucial ways. First, the NYCFC is truly free for all uninsured patients, offering services at no cost to the patient and providing options for prescription drugs at a greatly reduced cost. Secondly, the NYCFC is the only free clinic in New York that pays for specialty referrals. Thus, through the NYCFC specialty referrals network, an uninsured patient can still have the crucial consultations, screenings, and preventative tests that they otherwise may not have been able to receive. The NYCFC makes this important next step in their healthcare possible.