If you are an adult in the United States who is unemployed, don’t have insurance, or don’t have an income or a low income, it can be hard to find health care that’s affordable. But there are more free and low income sevices out there than you might expect. There are plenty of sevices for children, but adults are often overlooked. College students, blue-collar workers, the self employed, disabled, and homeless can find health care.
Getting free or low cost health care can be a difficult and time consuming process. Sometimes you need to make a lot of phone calls and deal with a lot of paperwork and redundancy. These services are often providing care for many people, and you sometimes have to wait weeks for an appointment.
To make the process easier, keep an organized file system of all of your paperwork, records and appointments. Keep plenty of copies of your financial and expenses and other important information you might need for applying for sevices. Taxes, check stubs, identification, medical records, child support documents and other financial records, as well as proof of residence and living expenses such as utility bills and rental agreements. Having an organized system for your paperwork will help to speed up the process when you need to provide these documents for different agencies and heath care centers.
This article is merely a guideline to get you started looking for free or low cost health care. It is not meant to be a comprehensive list, just a look in the right direction. You will need make a lot of phone calls, and speak to providers, agencies and other people who may be able to help you.
Community Health Centers
Community Health Centers are federally funded low cost health centers found in all 50 states. They are funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. No one is turned away for inability to pay or lack of insurance.
These Centers take Medicaid, as well as provide a sliding scale fee based on a person’s income. Sevices can vary at each health center, but most provide basic health care, including primary and preventative care. Services may also cover dental, vision, HIV services and pregnancy.
You can find a provider by going to the HRSA website, www.hrsa.gov, and looking up a Community Health Center nearest you, or by state.
Many state universities can provide certain health care services, and may have financial assistance programs to help you pay for them.
Look at your state university, especially Health Sciences or Medical Universities. It’s probably best to look through their website first, it’s the easiest way to find out what sevices might be available before making any phone calls.
Universities are best for specific diseases and concerns, not general health care. Some will provide financial assistance, and you will need to apply by filling out a financial aid packet, and provide information they request. Some financial aid for patients can run up to 100 percent of costs.
Some universities have student training programs, which provide services at a lower cost to the patient. There are also clinical trials, which are normally free to the patient, and also may even provide financial compensation for your participation.
Local, Religious and Private Organizations
There are various local, religious, and private organizations that may be able to help provide financial assistance to low-income or uninsured people in need of medical services. The way to go about finding these services is to ask around. You can talk to people and find information at places such as the Health Department, Salvation Army, Goodwill, local hospitals, charity organizations, and other social services.
You can also do an Internet search for organizations for your specific medical issue. There are organizations for most diseases and medical conditions, Contact the organization, and ask about low cost services they may know about.
There are over a thousand free clinics in the United States. The National Association of Free Clinics is a non-profit association that can help Americans locate a free clinic in their area.