by Diane Tuazon
MIDLAND - Healthcare costs are rising and you don't have to look too far to see that.
Midland Memorial Hospital has already started charging upfront for some Emergency Room visits, and may not accept Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plans for some emergency surgeries.
Now, non-profit clinics are expecting more patients.
"We're doing everything we can to be prepared for this," Midland Community Healthcare Services Chief Executive, Michael Austin, said.
As the economy slows and more pink slips are handed out, an increasing number of people need a new prescription for rising medical costs.
"We have numerous programs that we can fit patients into that can help considerably with their medical costs. In some cases there programs can pick up 100% of the cost," Austin said.
Midland Community Healthcare Services offers clinics for pediatrics, women's health, dental, and mental health care.
About 50,000 patients come into these clinics a year and Midland Community Healthcare Services says they're doing what they can to handle an anticipated increase of patients.
"Everything from getting a new phone system installed, to how we do our scheduling, our front office staff, and eligibility," Austin added.
One patient who's finding it difficult to afford health care is now relying on a non-profit clinic.
"My husband just got laid off, and sometimes coming to a clinic like here makes it easier," Patient Nelly Conde, said.
Midland Community Healthcare Services say they hope to lessen the crowd in emergency rooms.
"The emergency room is really geared up for emergencies and to use it for anything other than that is horribly insufficient in a medical stand point and financial stand point," Austin said.
Midland Community Healthcare Services also say during these hard times in the economy, patents remain their first priority.
"It's our mission to see patients regardless of their ability to pay," Austin said.