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Thursday, September 16, 2021

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UH College of Medicine to open direct primary care clinic


The University of Houston’s College of Medicine plans to open a direct primary care clinic aimed at providing low-cost care for Houstonians. 

UH College of Medicine hopes to mitigate the problems of the uninsured with their clinic’s usage of direct primary care. | File photo

The UH College of Medicine plans to open a direct primary care clinic aimed at providing low-cost care for Houstonians. 

With a $1 million gift from The Cullen Trust for Health Care, UHCOM plans to build their clinic near Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. 

By serving those in the Greater Houston Area, the clinic will increase access to care for those uninsured.

Texas currently leads as the state with the highest uninsured rate of 18.4 percent, according to a 2019 report from the Texas Comptroller.

In Texas, Houston ranks as one of the major cities with the highest number of uninsured residents. Within the Greater Houston Area, approximately 25 percent of residents lack health insurance. 

Of the uninsured Houston population, the rate is high amongst Hispanics with 50 percent.

In Southwest Houston, where the clinic will be located, the uninsured rate is 45 percent and nearly one in three people live below the federal poverty level. The reason behind the high rate alludes to a multitude of factors, the main one being expensive insurance, even under the Affordable Care Act.

Without coverage, uninsured Houstonians risk encountering higher health care costs, are less likely to receive an early diagnosis of a disease and are more likely to suffer health complications from other medical conditions.

UHCOM hopes to mitigate the problems of the uninsured with their clinic’s usage of direct primary care. Direct Primary Care is an alternative model of the insurance-based or fee-for-service model commonly used in the U.S.

Under DPC, patients will receive access to a spectrum of primary care services with a low monthly membership fee. 

In addition to primary care services, patients will also receive telehealth services, basic office procedures, laboratory testing, medication at reduced prices and a guarantee of same-day or next-day appointments.

DPC does not cover emergency or hospital stays, nor is it a complete substitute to comprehensive health insurance, according to The Houston Chronicle.

However, under the alternative model, DPC would potentially increase access for the uninsured Houstonians to see a primary care physician. 

Increased access to healthcare will help build relations between patients and their primary care physicians. This is a pillar in UHCOM’s mission to finding and continuing innovative ways to improve health in underserved communities.

Additionally, the clinic could help in alleviating the economic burdens that the uninsured risk. 

UHCOM plans to launch its pilot phase this fall, aiming to serve 1,000 patients during the first year, according to The Texan. 

The clinic will be staffed by UHCOM faculty physicians and pose as a training site for UH health professions students. 

Working to revitalize and prioritize primary care in Houston, UHCOM hopes to develop more direct primary clinics and serve the other communities within the Greater Houston area.

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