Community health centers provide care to patients too poor to be treated at other facilities. These centers have very low margins because in exchange for higher reimbursements from the federal government, community health centers must treat all patients regardless of their ability to pay.
The opportunity to get patients commercially insured via the health exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act gave community health centers the hope of a relief from constant money struggles as commercially insured patients tend to have the best reimbursement rates.
However, community health centers aren’t alone in trying to serve this newly insured population. Large health systems with all their amenities are also trying to access this population that was previously only cared for by community health centers by opening clinics in these areas. More choice for consumers is generally a positive, but competition for these newly insureds could leave community health centers with more uninsured patients and unable to survive.