The Problem: Community health centers (CHCs) are part of the United States' medical care safety net. Cost effectiveness is a critical element of value in today's health policy environment. Not all cost-effectiveness studies employ formal peer-reviewed methodologies. A review of the literature on CHCs' cost effectiveness is necessary to assess whether a higher level of evidence is needed to guide future policy.
Purpose: We sought to review the quality of the evidence on the economic value of CHCs and indicate whether a higher of level evidence would be useful for making policy.
Key Points: Evidence exists to support the general value of care in CHCs, but no evidence comes from formal economic evaluations of CHC care.
Conclusion: More formal cost-effectiveness evaluations would enhance the economic argument for CHCs but will remain difficult to conduct and may be unnecessary in light of other work on the value of care in CHCs.