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Friday, December 21, 2018

How to See the Doctor if You Don’t Have Insurance

African American patient at doctor's office

Accessing Medical Care While Uninsured

Many low-income Americans are in a very precarious situation when it comes to healthcare. At least 13.2% of uninsured Americans deny themselves visits to the doctor because of rising coverage costs. Though the situation seems desperate, there are options for how to see the doctor if you don’t have insurance.
Seeking Medical Care Without Insurance

Uninsured Americans should first see if they’re eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid considers factors such as age, income, household size, and the area where you live. Medicaid’s eligibility requirements change from state to state, but if you live in a state that expanded Medicaid you could qualify if you are a single-person household making less than $16,243. For a family of four the income cutoff is $33,465.

If you find that you do not qualify for Medicaid, seek medical care from cash-only providers. The reason some doctors choose to bypass insurance companies is to deal directly with patients about financial matters. This eliminates loyalty to insurance bureaucracy, which can sometimes work against the best interests of patients. Cash-only care operates by monthly or annual fees. According to Patient Management Hit, the average monthly payments for this kind of direct doctor access is anywhere from $1,200-$3,000 annually.

CommunityHealth and other free clinics operate entirely based off donations from private organizations and state funding. While this limits their services and ability to provide individualized care, these clinics are often lifesavers for the underserved low-income communities they operate within. These clinics continue to expand their reach, seek more funding to advance their quality of care, and gather patient monitoring equipment. Knowing how to see the doctor if you don’t have insurance is indispensable, and CommunityHealth Centers are a great first option.

Other Programs that Offer Care for the Uninsured
  • Aubrey Rose Foundation - This organization pays medical expenses for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
  • Charitable Hospital Programs - Many hospitals are willing to work with uninsured and low-income patients and have their own unique programs in place. For example, nonprofit hospitals are often required to offer financial assistance to keep their tax exempt status.
  • Hill-Burton Free and Reduced-Cost Health Care - You are eligible to receive care from this program if your income is below Federal Poverty Guidelines. You must apply at the admissions office at an approved Hill-Burton facility and display proof of income in order to qualify.
  • RediClinics and MinuteClinics - These walk-in clinics are usually found at your local CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens. Patients can expect to receive physicals and immunizations for common medical conditions, such as colds, ear and eye infections, and strep throat. They offer affordable cash pricing on all services.