The growing number of uninsured and underinsured people has forced a longtime Dallas low-cost health care provider to recently open a fourth clinic.
Los Barrios Unidos treats an estimated 23,000 patients a year and nearly three out of four of them do not have any health insurance, according to a representative of the organization.
The nonprofit organization, which was founded 45 years ago in West Dallas – an area once known as “Little Mexico” – opened the 21,400 sq. ft. LBU Health Center at 4732 W. Illinois Avenue in Oak Cliff in the fall.
“In a perfect world you wouldn't need clinics like ours, right? I mean people would have health insurance or they would have easy access to the health care that they need on a very affordable basis,” said Leonor Marquez, CEO of Los Barrios Unidos. “But the fact of the matter is our industry exists because not everyone can get access to health care.”
Texas is the uninsured capital of the United States, according to the Texas Medical Association, with more than 4.3 million Texans lacking any form of health insurance.
More than one in four adults in Dallas County - 439,689 people aged 18-65 – does not have health insurance, according to statistics provided by the TMA.
The uninsured are up to four times less likely to have a regular source of health care, according to the TMA, and are more likely to die from health-related problems.
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Despite those statistics, Los Barrios Unidos is quick to tout its record of providing primary care to its patients, nearly 90% of whom are Hispanic.
As opposed to the standard practice at many health clinics. Los Barrios Unidos’ patients have a primary doctor and have a long history of scheduling and following up with routine medical care.