What are County Medical Services?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2018
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In the United States, county medical services are those that are provided by the local county government and are usually administered through a county health department. The funding for such services usually comes from a combination of federal, state, and local sources, depending on the situation and service offered. Common county medical services include mental health services, a public health alert system, and a public health clinic, where people can go for standard immunizations and other health services. The main goal is to provide health services that directly benefit the general welfare of the entire public.

Most people are familiar with county medical services because of the high-profile, and sometimes controversial, programs that could be offered at such locations. The most controversial of these may be family planning services, which many may feel are not the responsibility of the government. Some object on the basis of morality. Others believe making such services available puts less of a strain on other social service programs and therefore is a net benefit to the community.


Another major component of county medical services is related to travel information and international immunizations. Diseases often vary by geographical location and immunization requirements and recommendations will change accordingly. Conditions such as yellow fever and hepatitis, normally not a concern in the industrial world, may be a concern in other places around the globe. Vaccinations against both are not normally given in the United States. For those who are visiting locations where these and other diseases are problems, county health departments are often a good place to start the search for immunizations.

Mental health is another area where county medical services may also give some assistance. Providing help for mental health ailments can often be very expensive and those afflicted often do not have insurance. Many counties offer assistance as a result, believing early intervention is the cheapest option. Services may include outpatient counseling, inpatient or residential treatment, and drug therapy.

County medical services are often responsible for a plan of action when new health threats are identified. When scares such as swine flu, sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and other public health threats come along, the county health department will usually put contingency plans into place for control of the disease. These plans may include alerting the public, helping to identify diseases, and determining when isolation is necessary. Often, the local county health department is one of the first to know when there is a problem in the area.

While the vast majority of funding for county medical services comes from government sources, the patient may also be required to pay at least some portion of the cost. The amount the patient is responsible for paying is often determined by looking at the patient's income and ability to pay. The type of services received will likely also be a factor when determining what the patient must pay. These services, and their costs, may differ from county to county.



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