Philadelphia health clinics may begin charging

Patients without health insurance in Philadelphia may soon be charged a fee when they visit health clinics that, so far, have been free. The city has eight primary-care health centers that provide free care regardless of a patient's insurance situation, but is considering charging "fees on a sliding scale" for uninsureds because of, among other things, an upcoming budget gap. 

The fees, proposed by Health Commissioner Donald F. Schwarz, would bring in an estimated $1 million-plus in new revenue. Opponents of the measure, such as Cathy Scott--president of District Council 47 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees--think that Schwarz instead should charge co-pays for those patients who visit the clinics that already have insurance. 

"Rather than going after poor people, we think there are lots of other ways that the Health Department could save money," Scott said. 

Currently, about one-fifth of the 334,000 patients that visit health clinics in the city yearly are covered by private insurance or Medicare. Scott's union believes that even if co-pays for insureds were $10, that would raise $700,000--not the $1 million-plus Schwarz's estimated his plan would bring in, but something, nevertheless. 

To learn more:
- check out this Philadelphia Inquirer article