Uninsured pose potential obstacle battling H1N1 - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Uninsured pose potential obstacle battling H1N1

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-Just as we face the H-1-N-1 flu outbreak, a growing number of people don't have insurance. Call it the fallout from the flu and a bad economy.

People running both public and private health clinics in Palm Beach County say they're seeing consistently rising numbers of uninsured. That's potentially a problem battling H-1-N-1.

Benjamin Lopez, of West Palm Beach, does not have health insurance because he can't get it where he works. Right now Lopez is suffering from sharp pains in his rib cage.

"Today I borrowed some money to go to see the doctor," said Lopez. His doctor ordered a stress test Lopez can't afford. So he came to the Palm Beach County Health Department clinic in West Palm Beach.

And while Lopez sought treatment for his current problem, he says with no insurance he doesn't always. "I actually look up myself my own remedies to see if I can find something that helps."

If Lopez started to get flu symptoms, would he put off going to a doctor? "I wouldn't have no choice but to put it off," Lopez stated.

"Theoretically and potentially, yes that is a problem." said Dr. Amalinnette Zito, medical director of the Health Department's West Palm Beach clinic. "If they don't stay home and they go to public areas, they obviously would transmit this to other people. That's how these things continue to spread."

But Dr. Zito says because of the publicity, plenty of patients with flu symptoms are visiting her clinic. And Palm Beach County has more resources for the uninsured than many areas.

The Palm Beach County Health Care District has a toll free number to call to see if you qualify for coverage under several different programs. The number is 866-930-0035.

For numbers and addresses of the six public health clinics run by the Palm Beach County Health Department, go to www.pbchd.com. There are also five private community health clinics-- Vita Care, Care Link, Found Care, Caridad Clinic, and the Arthritis Foundation. And the Palm Beach County Medical Society also has a program called Project Access. The number is 561-433-3940.

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