Free and Charitable Clinics

What is a Free or Charitable Clinic? Clinics are safety-net health care organizations that utilize a volunteer/staff model to provide a range of medical, dental, pharmacy, vision and/or behavioral health services to economically disadvantaged individuals. Such clinics are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, or operate as a program component or affiliate of a 501(c)(3) organization. 

Entities that otherwise meet the above definition, but charge a nominal/sliding fee to patients, may still be considered free or charitable clinics provided essential services are delivered regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Free or charitable clinics restrict eligibility for their services to individuals who are uninsured, underinsured and/or have limited or no access to primary, specialty or prescription health care.  

The mission of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is to ensure that the medically  underserved have access to affordable quality health care. However, it is our larger vision of being a national voice promoting quality health care for all that motivates donors, volunteers, and communities around the country to join our cause, as we work together to build a healthy America, one patient at a time.  Within our Association, we value volunteerism, generosity, collaboration and human dignity. See   


Community Health Centers are also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers or FQHCs

What is a Community Health Center? Community Health Centers or CHCs are federally supported non-profit clinics located in medically underserved areas – both rural and urban. They share a mission of making comprehensive primary care accessible to anyone regardless of insurance status. Federal legislation requires every Health Center Program Grantees and Look-Alikes to have a governing board that represents its community. A majority of the board members must be patients who use the health center’s services.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), FQHCs:

  • Qualify for funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (PHS).
  • Qualify for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid*, as well as other benefits
  • Serve an underserved area or population  
  • Offer a sliding fee scale  
  • Provide comprehensive services (either on-site or by arrangement with another provider), including: 

*Certain tribal organizations and FQHC Look-Alikes (organizations that meet PHS Section 330 eligibility requirements, but do not receive grant funding) also may receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.   See HRSA FQHC Fact Sheet

I am very grateful and blessed to have access to the Community Access to Care Program!

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