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The Suburban Primary Health Care Council’s mission is to facilitate access to primary health care services to residents of suburban Cook County and northwest Chicago who lack such access because of financial barriers. It has successfully fulfilled this mission since 1988 through its Access to Care program. Over 116,000 unduplicated individuals have had a medical home because of Access to Care, many of them for several years. In the last year Access to Care served 5665 individuals.
Patients in the Access to Care program are linked to a local primary care physician, an internist or family physician. They pay the physician $5 for each office visit. If the physician orders a diagnostic laboratory test or routine x-ray the patient pays $5 per specimen or x-ray. The patients pay $15 (generic), $30 (preferred brand), or $40 (non-preferred brand) for prescription medication written by their Access to Care physicians. The program also tells patients where they may be able to obtain less expensive drugs, although in a more limited formulary. These services are provided on an unlimited basis.
Access to Care has discounted contracts with physicians, commercial laboratories and hospital radiology departments and with Walgreen’s Pharmacy. The most unusual discounts are received from physicians. The program pays physicians only $68 per patient per year.
In 2018, the average per person cost for one year of Access to Care services is $648.78. Because its delivery system is not facility-based, the Access to Care program is very cost-effective. The cost for one person to receive program services for one year is less than the average cost of one visit to a hospital Emergency Department.