Family health

Coastal Family Health Center Reflects on Bridging the Great Health Divide

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – Health has been one of the most discussed topics over the past two years due to COVID-19.

In 2019, the United States Census Bureau reported that up to 18% of people under age 65 in southern Mississippi did not have health insurance.

Health officials said it drove up the price of prescription drugs. The Coastal Family Health Center has several locations on the coast to provide affordable health care and health insurance.

Employees said their mission is to provide care to the community, regardless of the patient’s economic status.

“Mississippi has never extended Medicaid to adults, so it’s a huge burden to overcome,” Coast Family pediatrician Dr. Wendy Williams said, “So they end up without insurance, or they have to get health insurance at very high deductibles, which doesn’t really help provide or the day-to-day medical needs they have,”

Williams said she has worked for the organization for 12 years. She explained that Mississippians’ ineligibility for Medicaid leaves many patients with few options.

CFHC is helping to solve the problem by having its pharmacies become closed-door pharmacies, which only provide prescription drugs to patients.

Williams said the center participates in the federal 340B drug pricing program, which allows workers to provide outpatient drugs at reduced prices to all registered patients, regardless of prescription coverage.

“Based on this, you pay a certain payment for your services. So let’s say your income is so-and-so, then you’ll pay $20 for your visit, and that includes everything for that visit,” Williams said. “It depends on the services you get.”

Williams said she sees better patient outcomes because workers have to submit them to the government in order to get grants and additional funds.

She said that of the 35,000 patients the center saw last year, many are improving their health.

Williams said nearly 70% of his diabetic patients lower their HbA1c levels, and 29% achieved their goal of reducing HbA1c from >9 to ≤9.

“People are getting better,” Williams said. “Our health outcomes are improving, the results are there, so we can prove it works.”

The only downside is that Stone County is the only county in Mississippi without a CFHC in the area, which means patients would have to travel for this type of care.

However, Williams said the center will soon extend its services to Wiggins.

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