How To Obtain Regular Medical Care Without Insurance
Alternatives for obtaining regular medical care when uninsured include the following:
All federally funded hospitals must provide a certain amount of free or low cost care because of the Hill-Burton Act. For information, including questions to ask, click here.
In addition, there may be funds available from private donations to pay for care. Ask the finance department of the hospitals in your local or nearby areas.
Community health centers
You can locate free or low cost health clinics as follows:
- A list of local nonprofit, community-owned health care programs which serve low income and medically under- served urban and rural communities is kept to date by The National Association of Community Health Centers. See www.nachc.com or call: 301.347.0400.
- See the free and low cost health clinic finder at: www.pparx.org/en/prescription_assistance_programs/free_clinic_finder . All you need to do is insert your zip code and the maximum number of miles you would prefer to travel. (If you don't find what you need, widen your search to clinics which are further away.)
Non-profit oganizations all around the country provide primary medical, obstetrical and gynecological, dental, mental health and substance abuse care. Although these sites do not provide treatment for life changing conditions as such, they will help you figure out how to get the care you need. People can't be denied service.
One example is RotaCare. RotaCare is a coalition of over 1,500 Rotarians, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, interpreters and other volunteers who provide free medical care to the medically underserved. RotaCare works with hospitals, clinics, community and social service organizations and service groups. RotaCare free clinics are available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Washington, and New York State. To learn more, see: www.rotacare.org/about.htm .
An example in New York City is the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic which provides free health care to uninsured and underinsured entertainment industry professionals between the ages of 18 to 64 as well as low cost referrals to a wide range of specialty clinics and practitioners. To learn more, see: www.actorsfund.org .
For a listing of non-profit organizations that provide medical care, see: http://ask.hrsa.gov/pc
State, County And City Health Departments
State, county and city health departments usually offer a range of health services at no cost. If you don't qualify for free service, services are generally provided on a sliding scale basis so everyone can afford health care.
City-owned clinics and community health centers receiving major subsidies from federal funds are legally required to provide accessible health care at a reasonable cost to all patients whether or not they can pay for it. This means that they cannot refuse to treat you until you pay in advance for care. However, they are permitted to charge you for your care after it has been provided.
To find services in your area, contact your state or local public health department http://www.fda.gov/oca/sthealth.htm . If you don't find what you need, also contact your county and city health department to see what services are provided in your area.
NOTE: Local and/or state departments of social services may also provide food, housing, and drugs in addition to help with medical expenses. Some even provide or arrange for transportation to get you to and from treatment. Check your local telephone directory for contact information.
Veterans (see Veterans)
Federally-funded health centers (also known as HRSA Health Centers)
There are hundreds of Federally-funded health centers around the country that provide medical care regardless of your ability to pay. They are often run by the government's Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Such centers are often referred to as HRSA Health Centers.
If you have no health insurance, you pay what you can afford, based on your income.
To locate a Federally-Funded Health Center, go to: http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov
If the above do not work: There are techniques for saving money when you use a doctor you have to pay. For instance, keep in mind that the cost of health care is negotiable. To learn more, see: Uninsured.
NOTE: You can ask a doctor a question for free at www.HealthTap.com . HealthTap has a community of almost 50,000 doctors who answer questions. Doctors have to apply to join the network. The company has guidelines about which doctors to accept. The founder of the company, Ron Gutman, says that doctors participate because HealthTap lets them build their online reputation, find new patients, and build their referral networks.
For more information, see: