JOHNS ISLAND, SC (WCSC) -Thousands of people in South Carolina have no medical insurance. People who tend to work in hourly or job-based workers, are typically the ones who aren’t provided health benefits.
According to data from the U.S. Census, 11 percent of people in South Carolina have no health insurance. This is an increase from 10 percent the year before, and the first time in a few years that number has increased.
The Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic provides primary care services to those who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.
“Many of the people who serve our meals at restaurants, who cook our meals at restaurants, who do yard work, construction, are people who don’t have insurance, said Richard Ulmer, Medical Director for the clinic.”
The clinic has had over 4,300 patient visits to date. Patients must either live or work on Johns, James, of Wadmalaw Islands and currently have no medical insurance.
Brandon Suggs has been a patient at the clinic for five years. He said he first came to the clinic after getting into a car accident and rupturing a disk in his back. He’s currently unemployed, but even when working with heating and air conditioning he never received benefits.
Recently he found out he needs to get hip replacement surgery and can only get this service through the clinic.
Suggs said, ““They were able to let me see some specialist, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get a hip re--- I don’t have the insurance.”
Along with those services, the clinic works with a large Hispanic population and has one of the only medically certified interpreters in the state. This means although there may be Spanish translators in hospitals, only a few have undergone extra testing for this certification.
The clinic has 138 volunteers and they are looking for more. Patients who are looking to go to the clinic also have to financially qualify. This means patients fall at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.