A Profile of Community Health Center Patients: Implications for Policy

Community health centers are a key source of primary care in medically underserved areas, and their role is expected to grow as coverage expands under the ACA. To sharpen understanding of the health center patient population, this brief compares the characteristics of health center patients and the low-income population overall, using data from the Health Center Patient Survey and the National Health Interview Survey. Health center patients are poorer, more racially and ethnically diverse, and more likely to be uninsured. They also report worse health status. Health center patients fare at least as well as low-income people overall on important measures of preventive care and care management. Findings on receipt of cancer care and selected chronic care services may reflect health center difficulties securing specialist referrals for patients. This pre-ACA profile of health center patients sets the stage for measuring change in the coming years and highlights important health center-related implications of states’ Medicaid expansion decisions.

Population of focus: Community health center patients

Links to resource:

Date: 2013

Organization: Kaiser Family Foundation