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George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Department of Health Policy


Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative Policy Research Brief No. 28


Women's Health; Disparities


Because of their location and ability to serve populations with complex health and social needs, CHCs reduce disparities in access to care and generate significant costsavings. This brief examines the role CHCs play in mitigating disparities for one population subgroup, low-income women of childbearing age (defined as age 15-44), and the challenges that they will need to overcome to build upon their success in delivering care to vulnerable populations. Key findings include:

  • CHCs serve approximately one in five (21.5%) low-income women of childbearing age nationally.
  • The number of women of child-bearing age receiving health center services at CHCs increased by 94 percent over the past decade.
  • CHCs serve a low-income population—approximately 93 percent of patients have incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • CHCs generate cost savings by providing a comprehensive array of services that support women across the lifespan, as well as preventive and enabling services shown to improve pregnancy outcomes.

While the Affordable Care Act bolsters access to care for low-income women of childbearing age and builds on the success of CHCs in providing high-quality, prevention-based health care to medically underserved and low-income populations, CHCs face a number of workforce and funding obstacles in ensuring that this patient subgroup gets the care they need.

Open Access