Clinics

Free Clinics Try To Fill Gaps As COVID Sweeps Away Job-Based Insurance

TUPELO, Mississippi — Joe Delbert hadn’t needed the Tree of Life Free Clinic in three years.

The 55-year-old man, who moved to Tupelo from Georgia to take care of his dying father nearly four years ago, found manufacturing work that came with health insurance. But last month, he joined 26 million other Americans who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19 in the past five weeks.

With the job went Delbert’s health coverage — and the money to pay for medications to control his diabetes and cholesterol. Insulin alone would cost him $600 a vial. Delbert said he would be sunk without the free clinic, which opens twice a month to provide health care at no charge to anyone without insurance.

“My medications are so expensive,” Delbert said. Because of the medication assistance, he added, “I can keep my head above water.”

Typically, three rows of benches outside the clinic

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