Preventative health care procedures provided by medical professionals are designed to minimize occurrences of specific diseases. The processes for treating them can also be quite expensive. In fact, treatments for such diseases comprise approximately 75 percent of health care spending in the United States.
Preventative health care procedures include screening tests and immunizations for physical ailments. Certain mental conditions are also detected through free clinical screening processes. Early detection is also a primary goal of such screenings. When such tests are performed at regular intervals, they can often reveal the presence of illnesses when they are in their earliest and most treatable stages.
Financial concerns often prevent patients from having such screenings performed at the recommended times. However, free preventative health care is often provided through community programs and other resources. Many insurance plans also offer total coverage of specific preventative tests. Below is more information about preventive care screenings and resources for free preventative health care.
Types of Preventative Health Care Typically Covered by Insurance
Many types of preventative care can be obtained for free from any medical providers who accept your medical insurance. Therefore, you may not have to seek out alternative sources of free medical care. You may be able to see your primary physician without being charged for such services. Examples of medical conditions you can typically obtain screening tests for without paying a copayment include:
- Blood pressure
- Alcohol abuse
- Certain types of cancer
- Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
Fully covered preventative health care procedures also include immunizations for common illnesses. Such immunizations are essential to prevent those illnesses from spreading through the population. Examples of diseases that can be prevented by immunizations include measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis and pertussis.
Preventative Health Care in Community Health Centers
A community health center is an organized health facility providing high-quality health care to community residents. You can seek care at a community health center if you are uninsured or require preventative care not covered by your insurance. Your community health center will most likely charge service fees based on payment capability of each patient. Therefore, if you cannot afford to pay for your care, then it will be provided for free.
Your community health center is likely to be staffed by personnel familiar with cultural needs within the community. The community health center will also be overseen by organizations within your community such as tribal organizations, religious organizations and private non-profit groups.
The close connection with the community and such organizations will allow staff members to better understand your needs and the needs of other community residents. In addition to preventative health care screenings and services, a community health center may also offer transportation and translation services, as well as ongoing health care for a variety of medical conditions.
Preventative Health Care in Free Clinics
Unlike community health centers, free clinics are often operated on a volunteer basis. If a free clinic exists in your area, then you can receive some forms of preventative care by visiting it. You will be under no obligation to pay for such services. Additionally, free clinics offer a wide variety of services beyond preventative screening tests. Some of those services include the following:
- Vision care
- Mental health care
- Dental care
- Primary medical care
- Women’s health care
- Pharmacy services
To receive services at a free clinic, you must meet eligibility requirements. Those requirements may vary in each state. Most free clinics will not treat you unless you are uninsured or can prove you do not have sufficient insurance coverage for the services you require. You may require the services provided by a free clinic if you are currently unemployed or have recently lost your health care insurance coverage.
Community Preventative Health Fairs
A community preventative health fair is a special event designed to educate you and other community members about public health issues. They typically include booths where you can learn about specific medical conditions. Some of those booths also offer simple screenings for those conditions, such as high blood pressure or issues relating to women’s health. Such health fairs can be held for varying lengths of time. You will often find them hosted in large public locations and sponsored by local hospitals or other organizations.
A community health fair may have a specific theme, such as family wellness. It may also be a generalized event offering medical information and screenings relating to such issues as:
- Smoking cessation.
- Substance abuse reduction.
- Sexually transmitted disease prevention.
- Diabetes awareness and screening.
- Skin cancer awareness.
Other Community Screening Programs for Preventative Health Care
Many communities offer additional preventative health care screenings and related services based on community needs. Certain community screening services are state-mandated, such as the vision screenings and physical examinations performed on children in schools in some states. Others are the results of partnerships between nationally recognized organizations and local groups. For example, the American Cancer Society holds many local events throughout the country each year to raise awareness about cancer. It does so with the help of local business owners, religious groups and medical organizations.
Some local preventative health care screenings are also offered during events sponsored by U.S. colleges with medical studies programs. Health events sponsored by such colleges are often extensive. Free screenings offered at such events may include the following:
- Prostate exams
- Breast exams
- Hearing and vision tests
- Sleep disorder assessments
- Sexually transmitted disease screenings
- Kidney screenings
Additional community preventative care services are often provided through specific organizations. For example, the Veterans Administration offers a program that can provide you with free medical screenings and annual checkups if you are a veteran of a U.S. military service. If you are a senior citizen, then you may also qualify for free screenings through local programs for the elderly. Local senior centers often offer glucose and blood pressure screenings to monitor for diabetes and heart disease as well as other timesaving tests.