Access to Care
SBHCs allow young people to access health care services during the day while at school and help reduce barriers to access such as cost, transportation, inconvenience, and confidentiality concerns. Last year, 90 percent of youth seeking services at an SBHC were able to get an appointment immediately for the care they needed, and 75 percent were unlikely to have received care that day without an SBHC.
Today, many young people in Oregon still lack adequate access to the health care they need due to a lack of health insurance, an insurance policy with limited coverage, a lack of understanding about how to access care, poor access to transportation (especially in rural areas), and a lack of medical providers providing care under the Oregon Health Plan. School-based health centers address each of these barriers by providing all school-aged youth with the care they need, whether they have private insurance, public assistance, or no insurance.
School-based health centers offer young people the opportunity to learn about health risks and disease prevention, as well as develop lasting relationships with medical professionals who can monitor treatment and support healthy lifestyles. In the 2012-2013 SBHC youth survey, 77 percent reported discussing at least one preventive health topic during their health center visit. The top five preventive helath topics covered during SBHC visits were:
- Healthy body weight
- Healthy eating
- Reproductive health
SBHC staff routinely counsel students individually, in groups, and through school-wide education initiatives. By focusing on prevention and early intervention, SBHCs reduce expenditures throughout the state's health care systems, reduce inappropriate emergency room use, and support academic success by keeping kids healthy and in school.
In 2013, 74 percent of students estimated that they would miss one class or more in order to visit and off-site clinic. Studies have shown that school-based health centers decrease absences, tardiness, and school discipline or behavior problems. When students receive care at school for their health care needs, daily attendance increases which provides the school with maximum revenue. Adolescents are also 10-21 times more likely to access mental health services at SBHCs versus a community clinic or HMO, and in-school mental health services have been shown to decrease discipline referrals by as much as 65 percent.