What is a free clinic?
The Free Medical Clinic often referred to as Free or Charitable Clinics is a health care community safety net that is established, operated, and maintained for the purpose of providing primary health care to socioeconomically and geographically underserved patient populations. Typically, the Free Medical Clinic’s personnel includes dedicated volunteers and/or paid staff who provide medical, dental, pharmacy, vision, and/or behavioral health services to individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford such services.
The Free Medical Clinic is not required to provide services free of charge to be classified as a charitable entity. It may charge a nominal fee as long as the necessary services are rendered without consideration of the patient’s ability to pay. Because Free Medical Clinics serve those who could not otherwise afford medical services, the Clinics often limit their services to patients who do not have insurance, have limited insurance, and/or have limited or no access to necessary health care. (Legal and Operation guide for Free Medical Clinics, AMA Foundation, copy right 2015, pg. 11.)