The Uninsured: Free Clinic

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DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS): (Off-camera) In Inglewood, California tonight, a vivid demonstration of the health care crisis. A clinic that provides free health care has been inundated with patients. Almost 46 million people in this country do not have health insurance, but the problem is a lot bigger than that. Many people who do have insurance still cannot afford the care that they need. Mike Von Fremd is at that free clinic tonight. Mike, good evening.

MIKE VON FREMD (ABC NEWS): (Off-camera) Good evening, Dan. Many of the people waiting in line for this free care are what the medical community calls under-insured. They have basic insurance, but it does not cover their most basic needs. Damone Jones, in the dental chair, works for the Edison Power Company. He has medical insurance but could not afford the $5,000 root canal that he is getting today for free.

DAMONE JONES (EDISON POWER):  I have insurance, but it’s, it’s so high when I go to the dental that it’s, it’s outrageous prices, so I can’t do it. I can’t afford it.

MIKE VON FREMD (ABC NEWS): (Voiceover) More than 1,000 volunteers, dentists, doctors and optometrists such as Jayme Chiu, have been working 14 hour days. They are shocked at the number of people desperate for care.

JAYME CHIU (OPTOMETRIST):  I’m exhausted. People are continuously coming. People really have very basic needs. And it’s so basic that it’s sad.

MIKE VON FREMD (ABC NEWS):  (Voiceover) This event was sponsored by Remote Access Medical, an organization started to serve third world countries. It’s now helping people in America’s second largest city.

JAMIE COURT (CONSUMER WATCHDOG): This is the poster child for everything that’s wrong in American health care,
when you see working Americans, people with health insurance coming here because their health insurance isn’t good enough.

MIKE VON FREMD (ABC NEWS): (Voiceover) The care that this free clinic is offering is estimated to be worth $200,000 a day. They expect to treat 8,000 desperate patients. Lindsey Huff has catastrophic health care. It does not cover her dental or vision needs and she’s not had an eye exam or teeth cleaning in years.

LINDSEY HUFF (PATIENT):  It’s unbelievable. For me it’s like winning the lottery. Seriously, I’m going from here over to dental. And all these little problems that I’ve been able to slip by and get by are gonna be resolved.

MIKE VON FREMD (ABC NEWS): (Voiceover) This has been a godsend for these people, but the clinic closes down on Tuesday.

PATIENT (MALE): Yeah, yeah. This is much better.

MIKE VON FREMD (ABC NEWS): (Voiceover) Mike Von Fremd, ABC News, Inglewood, California.

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