Oklahomans Who Rely On Low Cost Clinics React To Healthcare Decision

Thursday, June 28th 2012, 4:20 pm
By: News On 6

Editor's note: In the original story, we stated the Faith Family Clinic was a free clinic.  The clinic is actually a low cost clinic.  We apologize for the error.

The Supreme Court decision has thousands of uninsured Americans applauding.  It's estimated nearly 2 million Americans rely on free and low cost clinics for basic healthcare every year.

This decision could change that number, but there are still plenty of questions remaining.

Patti Wheaton has operated her Faith Family Clinic in Jenks for the last 10 years. The low cost clinic specializes in women's health and treats patients whether they have insurance or not.

"We have people who come in here that, a lot of times, they've put things off and put things off and put things off because they don't have the resources," Wheaton said.

Wheaton said about one in four of her patients do not have health insurance, and most have high deductibles and co-pays, so that they simply cannot afford to go to their doctor.

"If you are uninsured, you are deciding whether or not you're going to pay your house payment or your rent or pay for your kids, for your groceries—versus going to the emergency room," Wheaton said.

Karin Hummingbird, from Sapulpa, is one of Wheaton's patients. She's a self-employed realtor who does not have health insurance.

"I want to be covered," Hummingbird said.

Hummingbird said, between her and her self-employed husband, she makes too much money to qualify for public assistance, but not enough to be able to afford insurance.

"My husband had a heart attack a few years ago and we're still paying on that bill, month to month, trying to get that paid," Hummingbird said.

Both women are pleased the Supreme Court upheld the healthcare law, but they do have reservations.

Wheaton says the healthcare system in the U.S. is flawed and needs to be fixed, but she's worried about the cost.

"I think it will be great if we can figure out how to do this where it's not a burden financially on our already burdened society," Wheaton said.

While Hummingbird hopes the law helps her get insurance, she's worried that her healthcare will have too much of the government's hands on it.

"If I need a certain medicine, if I need an operation, I want to be covered by that. I don't want to put it before a panel to decide if they're okay with it," Hummingbird said.