Non-emergent visits to emergency departments by uninsured patients impose unnecessary costs on both patients and safety-net institutions. We evaluated the health and economic impacts of providing free, walk-in care to low-income, uninsured adults—most of them Hispanic—at a free clinic between January 2013 and December 2016. Providing access to health care services for uninsured patients at Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic reduced emergency department expenditures in Rhode Island by approximately $448,876 (range: $410,377–$487,375) annually and may have also reduced future healthcare costs for this population by more than $48 million ($12,034,469 annually) over the four-year evaluation period. For every $1 in funding for walk-in clinic operation, delivering free care provided a return on investment of $71.18 (range: $70.95–71.40) in healthcare value. Providing access to non-emergent walk-in care at the more than 12,000 free healthcare clinics nationwide may save billions in ED costs while improving the health of uninsured individuals.


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pp. 806-819
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