More than 17.2 percent of North Carolinians under 65 lacked health insurance in 2005. Most of the state’s uninsured are full-time workers. As health insurance costs rise, coverage often becomes too expensive for both employers and individuals. The uninsured are less likely to visit their doctor regularly and are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with late-state illnesses or be hospitalized for preventable conditions. Across the state, safety-net providers are stepping up to meet the needs of the uninsured, but unfortunately, most uninsured still go without primary care services.
Dr. Phillip Stover is the medical director of the Franklin County Volunteers in Medicine Clinic in Louisburg, North Carolina. The clinic treats only county residents who live with chronic diseases. Most of the patients are below or hovering just above the poverty line and cannot afford private health insurance. Without this clinic, they would be unable to afford medical treatment or medication. After two years, the clinic is growing and, despite a few pitfalls, succeeding at its goal of serving the uninsured.
This story was part of a larger series produced with a team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. On The Line: Economic Hardship in North Carolina won an Honorable Mention for Best Multimedia Package in the NPPA 2008 Best of Photojournalism contest.