Thousands flood free medical clinic in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- A charity called Your Best Pathway to Health set up shop in downtown Los Angeles this week, providing free medical and dental care. The response has been overwhelming.

People lined up by the thousands for chance to see a doctor, dentist, or optometrist -- all medical volunteers, offering their services for free.

Mandy Negrete has put off getting glasses for years. Even though she has health insurance, it only pays for an exam -- not corrective lenses.

"What am I supposed to do with a prescription? It's no good to me without the glasses," Negrete told CBS News.

Here, she paid nothing.

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Giselle Segura, 4, takes an eye test at a free medical and dental health clinic in Los Angeles, California, April 27, 2016.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Jessie Agbunat has been putting off surgery to remove a benign growth on her shoulder for five years. Dr. Chris Lewis removed it in 20 minutes in a makeshift operating room on the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Agbunat said her state-subsidized insurance plan comes with high deductibles and co-pays.

"Thousands, yeah, it's thousands," Agbunat said.

When Dr. Lewis founded the traveling, free clinic in 2014, he anticipated a different clientele.

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People line up for a free medical and dental clinic in downtown Los Angeles on April 27, 2016.

CBS Los Angeles

"I expected to see a lot more homeless people and people with no insurance at all, and to find out that the majority had insurance but couldn't afford their co-payment or deductible, that was surprising," Lewis said.

Negrete isn't surprised at all. She's had more failures than successes with her insurance. She's currently facing $18,000 dollars in unexpected medical bills from the birth of her son, which she thought would be covered.

"I don't want to go to the hospital. I'm really apprehensive about going anywhere unless it's a dire emergency," she said.

Some 4,300 volunteers who put on the two-and-a-half day clinic will treat 10,000 patients, giving away $30 million in medical services -- a temporary solution to a much bigger problem.