Health centers and health insurance: Complements, not alternatives

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Ambulatory Care Management


Volume 28, Issue 4

Inclusive Pages



Community Health Centers; Insurance, Health; Health Care Costs; Access to Health Care; Insurance; Underserved Populations


While some consider health centers and universal health insurance to be opposing concepts, we consider them to be complementary. Health centers play a vital role regardless of the type of insurance system in place because they reduce barriers to care and provide quality culturally competent care to vulnerable populations. The current private employer-based US healthcare system does not create incentives for providers to care for low-income and vulnerable populations. Even in countries with universal health coverage, health centers increase access to care and improve health outcomes. Instead of arguing whether health centers or health insurance should be expanded, the debate should focus on how best to use safety net providers as health insurance coverage expands.