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Raleigh Clinic To Help Working Poor, Underinsured

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RALEIGH — For many, health insurance can be an unaffordable luxury. Just putting food on the table is expensive for families who live on one income. But for some people in Raleigh, insurance help may be on the way.

Laura Palmatier has not seen a doctor since her daughter was born 20 months ago.

"When I was pregnant with Lindsay, I was working full time and I had insurance. It was company-paid with great benefits. When I stopped working, the insurance stopped," she says.

Lindsay gets health insurance through the state. Palmatier and her husband could buy coverage through his company, but they cannot afford the $90-dollar-a-week payments.

Jack Stone's vision could help people like the Palmatiers. Stone founded the Alliance Medical Ministry, a faith-based group that plans to build a health clinic on New Bern Avenue for the working poor.

"My hope is that they come in for an ear infection, but our doctor will determine that the person may be suffering from high cholesterol and hypertension," says Stone.

Patients would be charged according to their hourly income. If you earn $10 an hour, you would pay $10 for a doctor's visit. The alliance wants to make medical and dental care affordable for families like the Palmatiers.

"I think it's some really generous and kindhearted people who would do something like that for people in my situation and even worse," says Palmatier.

A lot of people are helping the clinic become a reality. The land is being leased for a dollar a year. An architect is donating his time, and a retiring dentist donated all of his equipment. Three hundred volunteers have offered to help the alliance with its mission to care for the body and the spirit.

Groundbreaking for the Alliance Medical Ministry is scheduled for August of this year. Founders hope to open the clinic in January.


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