Health Care Access Initiatives

The Basic Idea:

Work with health care institutions and community groups to decrease the cost of health care and improve access for low-income families.

How it works—The Essentials:

Many models exist including:

  • State Children’s Health Insurance Programs—which increase access to insurance for a state’s children.
  • Cost reduction initiatives whereby a community group negotiates with health care providers on behalf of uninsured low-income families to reduce costs and/or get them similar deals to those of insured families.
  • Low-cost and free community clinics.
  • Rural telemedicine initiatives.

Who Does It:

Depending on the initiative, those involved may include:

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • State legislatures and state agencies
  • City and county government units
  • Health care institutions
  • Businesses


It addresses one of the most serious issues compromising families’ financial health.
Poor health outcomes are a primary cause of many families’ economic problems—if you fix this, many other problems will fix themselves.


Most approaches are band-aids for a seriously broken US health care system.
The more comprehensive the approach, the more expensive.

Simplicity Index:

The Toughest of Tough Nuts to Crack. It is a real tooth-breaker.

Examples and Resources:

In rural Iowa, Barnabas Uplift, a joint program of the Lutheran, Catholic and Muslim faiths plus other organizations operates Mission Health and Mission Prescriptions which provide health care and prescription drugs discounts for low-income families.

RuFES is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group.
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