November 18, 2014 at 10:27 PM CST - Updated July 21 at 1:30 PM
JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)
It's the second year people can enroll in the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. Tens of thousands of Arkansans are expected to take part in the open enrollment period, but a Jonesboro clinic is seeing fewer patients than usual.
Jonesboro Church Health Center has noticed a 25% decrease in the number of patients. The center caters to people with no insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.
“Before the Affordable Care Act, it would take almost four to six weeks for a new patient to get an appointment at our clinic,” said Assistant Clinical Director Kim Metcalf.
Jonesboro Church Health opened in 1992 and provides care to those in need. Doctors from St. Bernards Medical Center and NEA Baptist Hospital volunteer at the clinic.
Open enrollment began on Saturday. Residents can enroll, renew or change their plan options. Metcalf said they have gotten feedback, positive and negative, from their patients about their insurance.
“Those negative feedback comes from those patients who applied for the Affordable Care Act," said Metcalf. "Actually really looked into it, but they simply can't afford the amount of money they have to pay out of their pocket every month."
Patients only pay a $15 office visit to see a doctor. They provide health care to patients of all ages and various specialists visit the clinic once a month.
“We've had patients tell us that the amount they would have to pay would be almost 50% of their monthly income,” Metcalf said.
Open enrollment ends Feb. 15th. More than 44,000 residents enrolled in the health care marketplace in 2014.