As the national debate over health insurance continues, an organization in Burlington is helping communities around the country care for America’s uninsured and underserved.
Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) is a nonprofit dedicated to building a network of free primary health care clinics for those without adequate health insurance. Since 1998, VIM has guided local organizing committees through a proven model to establish sustainable, community owned clinics.
Today, there are 91 VIM Alliance clinics in 28 states providing free health care services to the uninsured and underinsured. The VIM model emphasizes the use of volunteers to deliver compassionate, high-quality care at no cost to eligible patients. Recently released data for 2016 show that these clinics engaged an estimated 10,500 volunteers to provide care to 95,000 individuals in over 400,000 patient visits.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) increased the number of people with some form of insurance, an estimated 27 million people in this country are still uninsured. Millions more face barriers to care such as high costs, health plan limitations and provider shortages. VIM clinics provide access to those who may otherwise delay care, go without it completely, or seek costly treatment in the emergency room.
“Volunteers in Medicine clinics are a testament to the power of communities to come together to care for one another,” said Sasha Bianchi, Executive Director. “Communities are stronger when everyone – regardless of religion, country of origin or financial status – has the opportunity to be healthy.”