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A new Lander free health care clinic hopes to provide better access to the uninsured

In theory, "direct primary care" should result in better health for patients and lower health care costs overall. But some analysts say that approach just encourages the worried well to get more care than they need.
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In theory, "direct primary care" should result in better health for patients and lower health care costs overall. But some analysts say that approach just encourages the worried well to get more care than they need.

A free clinic has opened in Lander. It will help provide basic healthcare needs for the uninsured population in Fremont County.

Kevin Wilson was working as a registered nurse at the Fremont County jail when he realized there needs to be better access to free or low cost health care for the uninsured. He did a community survey and found that there are about 400 uninsured people in Lander and most likely another 3,000 uninsured in Fremont County. So Wilson and some other medical professionals in the community got together to start the Lander Free Medical Center.

“It's a real, local community oriented response to the healthcare crisis that is thrust upon us by the state not expanding Medicaid [and] that's upon us by the holes in the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “We decided that we'd had enough.”

In states that have expanded Medicaid, those who make below 138 percent of the poverty level are eligible for Medicaid. In Wyoming, those below 138 percent of the poverty level are in the “coverage gap." They aren’t eligible for Medicaid and they aren’t eligible to buy subsidized insurance. So they can only buy insurance at full price, which in most cases they cannot afford. The clinic will take anyone who is up to 200 percent of the poverty level without insurance or other access to care.

The Lander Free Clinic hopes to eliminate the money barrier.

“They [uninsured] often have to choose between buying food, having housing taken care of, or filling their prescriptions, or getting a medical procedure done or just having to pay self-pay at the local clinics to get in to see a provider,” said Wilson.

The clinic offers access to primary care physicians, lab tests, lower cost imaging and reduced price or free medications. There are also free clinics in Laramie, Cody and Jackson.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. She has won a regional Murrow award for her reporting on mental health and firearm owners. During her time leading the Wyoming Public Media newsroom, reporters have won multiple PMJA, Murrow and Top of the Rockies Excellence in Journalism Awards. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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