Founded in 2001 under the umbrella of the SC Hospital Association, SCFCA is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that provides training and technical assistance, research, resource development and advocacy to Free Clinics throughout South Carolina. SCFCA represents and supports our state’s network of 40 Free Clinics, which provides comprehensive health care to the uninsured. The SCFCA was incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in January 2008.
To support and assist each other in improving the quality and availability of health care to the medically underserved by managing our clinics effectively and efficiently and by expanding those efforts in other South Carolina communities.
Free clinics are volunteer-based, safety-net health care organizations that provide a range of medical, dental, pharmacy, and/or behavioral health services to economically disadvantaged individuals who are predominately uninsured. Free clinics are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, or operate as a program component or affiliate of a 501(c)(3) organization. Entities that otherwise meet the above definition, but charge a nominal fee to patients, may still be considered free clinics provided essential services are delivered regardless of the patient's ability to pay.
South Carolina's Free Clinics are an essential part of our state's safety-net health care system, providing quality, comprehensive health care to the state's uninsured. Through financial support from foundations, fundraisers and individual donations, and through the efficient use of donated supplies and volunteer provider services, free clinics operate without the support of state or federal funding. Our state’s free clinics were responsible for the following activities in 2007:
- • Treatment of 34,000 patients
- • Oversight of 110,000 patient visits and 13,000 referrals
- • Filling of over 323,000 prescriptions
- Numbers - 667,000 South Carolinians are uninsured -- this represents 16% of our state’s total population.
- People - More than one out of three people (34.2%) in South Carolina under the age of 65 went without health insurance for all or part of the two-year period 2007-2008. Most uninsured South Carolinians (79.7%) are members of working families. (www.familiesusa.org)
- Dollars – Treating a patient in a free clinic costs approximately $68 –the same care in a hospital emergency room costs an average of $1600. The savings to our state’s healthcare economy is enormous. Average Return on Investment for dollars donated to free clinics in South Carolina is $12 to $1
- Uninsured - One in five South Carolinians are uninsured, including children, young adults, middle-aged adults and people nearing retirement. Service and labor jobs are less likely to provide workers with health insurance. Even when employers offer health insurance, premiums tend to be too high for minimum-waged workers. Smaller employers are less likely to offer health insurance to their employees because premiums are prohibitively expensive.
- Growing need - With one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, the number of SC residents who find themselves without coverage due to job loss is growing steadily. SC's free clinics saw, on average, a 40% increase in new patients in the last six months. Many clinics saw a 50% increase.
- Volunteers – The heart and soul of free clinics are our dedicated volunteers. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and community activists who care for our patients, answer our phones, input data, etc. allow us to take care of patients at no charge.
- History –Three of SC’s free clinics have been serving patients for over 25 years.
- Support – The Duke Endowment and BlueCross BlueShield of SC Foundation are among the generous supporters of the work of the SCFCA and our member clinics throughout South Carolina.