A new policy research brief released today by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services examines the financial impact of community health centers in North Carolina, a state known for its primary care innovation.
The brief, titled “Bending the Health Care Cost Curve in North Carolina: The Experience of Community Health Centers,” examines whether health centers in North Carolina, which has a well-developed primary health care system reaching medically underserved communities, are more cost effective than other primary health care providers. The researchers found that on average, health center patients cost 62% less annually than comparable patients who received care in other ambulatory care settings.
"The results of this study continue to show health centers are a very cost-effective option for states that are seeking to stem rising health care costs," said lead author Peter Shin, PhD, associate professor of Health Policy and Geiger Gibson Program Director. "Because they serve as advanced, community-based medical homes for high-risk individuals living in isolated and poor neighborhoods and are highly focused on prevention, they help states save money," Professor Shin said.
The researchers combined national and state data from two sources, the national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and the state’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to create two different models, each of which showed significant cost savings in ambulatory care expenses for North Carolina health center patients as compared to those who rely on other sources of primary health care.
“This state- level analysis supports national findings, showing that community health centers provide cost effective, high quality care,” said Julio Bellber, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. “Investing in community health centers makes sense for North Carolina, and the nation as whole.”
To access the policy research brief, click here