Many of the patients came to the makeshift clinic Wednesday from neighboring South Los Angeles, where poverty abounds and healthcare needs often go unmet, The New York Times reported.
Word of the free care spread quickly, the newspaper said, and people started lining up at midnight for everything from new teeth to blood pressure tests and mammograms to dental, medical and vision services.
Some who turned out at the Los Angeles Forum said they had no health insurance. Others had coverage but not enough to pay for the care they need.
More than a few were keenly aware that, in many ways, their presence at the free clinic put them at the center of a national debate on healthcare reform.
"I am on point with the news," said Elizabeth Harraway, 50, who is unemployed and came for dental care. "I think the president's ideas are awesome, and I believe opening up healthcare is going to work."
Remote Area Medical, the Tennessee-based non-profit running the event, normally provides care to poor people in rural areas. The group said it expects 8,000 patients will receive free care by the end of the eight-day clinic.