Local groups give low income families free health check-ups

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COLUMBIA - Mohammed Hasan's daughters had never had a dental exam until Saturday morning at the Back-to-School Health Fair.

Hasan moved from Iraq for school with his wife and three children. He said the family has basic healthcare, but it is limited.

It doesn't cover dental, vision, or hearing exams, among other things.

"It's very expensive... so I cannot take them for the check-up," Hasan said. 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, before the Affordable Care Act went into affect, about 834,000 Missourians were uninsured.

Aaron Swaney with the Family Health Center said that number has improved some over the past year.

"Last year, about 153,000 were able to get plans through the market place, but that's out of 600,000 who were newly eligible," Swaney said. "In Boone County we've got above 10,000 eligible who are still uninsured."

The Voluntary Action Center, Family Impact Center, and the Family Health Center offered free check-ups at the Boone County Back to School Health Fair.

"There's definitely a lot of people who, you know, they don't even know where to start with the healthcare system," Swaney said. "They might have an issue, but they've never had health insurance. They don't even know where to begin."

Providers were at the fair sharing information with families about what sorts of options are available to them in terms of health insurance.

Director of the Family Impact Center, Ashley Guillemette, said the fair was also designed for lower income families who might have insurance, but don't have the resources to take their kids for regular check-ups.

"Families, particularly with limited resources, face barriers which can affect their ability to get these different health screenings done," Guillemette said. "It could just be that they don't have the opportunity to take off work to get their kids from place to place. Maybe it's difficult getting transportation or gas money."

Guillemette said the fair, which ran from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, aimed to give all lower income families a fair opportunity to get health screenings for their kids.