Despite Lake County, Illinois, being one of the most affluent counties in the country, a large number of its residents are uninsured. Approximately 67,000 individuals (11% of the total population) are uninsured. That number is greater than the entire population in 80 of Illinois’ counties. Also, having a job does not ensure having insurance; of those over 18 years old, 62% of the uninsured are employed.
HealthReach, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) corporation that provides a free clinic for the medically underserved of Lake County, providing access to healthcare. Eighty-five percent of the patients served by HealthReach Clinic are minorities. Volunteer physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and others provide most of the care. HealthReach Clinic has been in operation since May 1992, providing more than 25,000 people with medical care.
Without the ability to access routine and preventative healthcare, individuals are often forced to obtain care only after they are ill and then through more expensive routes to care, such as the emergency room. Healthcare and medications, provided at a free or reduced cost, allows them to use their personal resources for other needs. Last year, HealthReach was able to provide more than 4,000 patient visits and more than $250,000 worth of medications to patients.
To ensure that quality healthcare is provided for patients, HealthReach monitors outcomes. That monitoring has shown, for example, that 90% of their patients with diabetes and/or hypertension are controlled after three months of care at HealthReach, whereas prior to this care none of the cases were controlled.
HealthReach is unique in Lake County, the only clinic in the area providing the following service on such a large scale:
- Infants to senior care
- Primary healthcare
- Patient education and wellness services
- Mental health services
- On-site cardiology, orthopedic, and podiatry services
- On-site blood drawing and EKG testing
- Access to other testing (e.g., CT, MRI)
- Access to specialty consultation and treatment
A $5.00 donation is requested at each patient visit, and if HealthReach is unable to provide the patients with free medications (samples and other medicines obtained from pharmaceutical companies), a co-payment of 25% of the wholesale cost is requested for medications purchased for patient use. These fees are requested, but not required, which allows the patients to take ownership for a portion of their care.