Health insurance is a hot-button issue for many of us, but also can be a source of confusion and stress. There is such a wide variety of options for health insurance to choose from, it can also become overwhelming.
But while there are quite a few ways in which people who are insured can find health resources they need, what about those who remain uninsured?
For many people, health insurance is just not possible. The costs for being insured, or the qualifications one must meet in order to be considered can be quite extensive. The good news is, just because you aren’t insured, does not mean that you will be without health care. With a selection of free health clinics or low-cost clinics throughout the country, here are a few options to consider when you are uninsured.
Free Health Clinics
While you might not be able to simply walk into a regular doctor’s office and receive low-cost care, there are many clinics throughout the country that offer free care for those uninsured. Free clinics tend to focus more on routine illnesses and injuries, rather than emergency care or large-scale circumstances. A few routine conditions or long-term care issues that can be addressed at a free clinic include the below:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Basic medical testing
- Women’s health care
Remember though, just because a place has the word “clinic” in the title, does not mean that it will provide free care. It is recommended that if you are looking for specific free care clinics in your area, ask other health professionals for recommendations, or research on your own.
There are some clinics out there that do not accept any insurance providers, at all, and will only accept cash for services. These cash-only clinics are also called direct primary care or concierge-based medicine. Cash-only clinics allow doctors to treat patients without needing to go through insurance companies and a variety of red tape within the healthcare industry. Some cash-only clinics can offer monthly payment options for patients who cannot afford to pay everything up front. One of the many benefits of cash-only clinics is that the services tend to be much more reasonably priced, compared to other places. This is due to the fact that any added costs of managing insurance company relationships will be voided, and the savings can then translate into a benefit for you, the patient.
Community Health Clinics
If you do not qualify for low-cost health insurance, or if you cannot afford basic health insurance options, then you can still consider finding a community health clinic that offers low-cost health care options, often on a sliding scale. In many situations, the nearby community health care center will base what you pay for services from your income. So, if you have no income or very limited income, then you will be paying less for necessary services and procedures. Some of the common services that a community health center provides include the below:
- Prenatal care for expectant mothers
- Baby shots
- General primary care
- Women’s health care
- Referrals for specialized care
In many cities and towns throughout the country, there are clinics which are open to the public that allow students in a university to train, while also assisting others. Training clinics are usually located close to a college or university, and typically charge on a sliding scale for assistance. For example, if you are seeking mental health treatment from a licensed professional, but do not have insurance, then you can have the option to attend sessions in a training clinic with a graduate student who is supervised by a licensed psychologist. Or, perhaps you need dental care and you do not have dental insurance.
A training clinic can provide a low-cost way for you to have dental cleanings, get fillings or have other dental issues addressed for little-to-no out-of-pocket costs.
Consider Support Groups
When you do not have insurance options for healthcare-related issues, there are still ways in which you can connect with others, and find the help you need. Support groups, for example, are a great way to find free or low-cost therapy in your area. While you might not receive the type of private sessions or personalized care that you would receive with insurance, a support group still can help without many out-of-pocket expenses. Some of the more notable support groups out there include the below:
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
You can search for more support groups in your area online, or through local community centers.
Find Online Clinics
It might seem a bit strange first, finding a clinic online, but lately, there have been many options popping up that should be considered for those who need the care. Telemedicine and Telehealth have been more common within the past few years than ever before. Not only will this save you a ton of money, but often, you do not even need to leave the comfort of your own home. There are plenty of apps and programs nowadays that allow you to meet with licensed healthcare professionals online, for a small fraction of what the cost would have been for an in-person visit. Telemedicine still allows licensed professionals to treat, diagnose and even prescribe medication for you without needing to meet in person. There are even apps where you pay a monthly fee to receive therapy a few times a month with a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. Do not discount technology as a way to avoid the rising costs of healthcare, especially for those without regular health insurance.
Related Article: Other Types of Health Care Coverage