Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have become more aware of the importance of healthcare. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen exactly how much healthcare can cost and how devastating those expenses can be for the uninsured or those with high deductibles. How do you get the healthcare you need when you don’t have insurance and you can’t afford to pay out of pocket?
You don’t have to forgo medical care if you don’t have health insurance. Read on to learn about different options for getting medical care if you can’t afford the bills.
Before we dive into all the ways you can get healthcare when you can’t afford to go to the doctor, let’s talk some about how much it can cost to go to the doctor. While there are some general ranges of doctor’s visit costs, it’s important to note that everyone’s visit costs will be different. Your costs will depend on where you live, what services you need, and how long you’ve been a patient with this doctor.
In general, doctor’s visits can cost anywhere between $120 and $350 for a standard office visit. If you have insurance, they may cover some or all of these costs. You may also have to pay a certain amount of money for your healthcare, called a deductible, before your insurance begins to cover the cost of your care.
For most people, the way you pay for healthcare costs is with insurance. However, there are more than 27 million Americans that don’t have any form of health insurance. From unemployed people to freelancers to part-time employees, millions of Americans don’t have employer-provided insurance and don’t qualify for programs like Medicaid or Medicare.
If you’re buying private insurance, costs can get exorbitant in a hurry. Most private insurance plan premiums start at $300 a month for basic care and go up as you add family members and better coverage. Then you have to pay deductibles that can be as high as $6,000 before your insurance starts covering the cost of your care.
One of the best options for getting care when you can’t afford it is to look for a free clinic in your area. Many areas have clinics run by doctors who donate their time and are funded by donations. Patients who qualify can receive free exams, some limited procedures, and potentially free medications.
In order to receive care at some of these clinics, you may have to meet certain qualifications. You might have to have a job, or you may have to have a household income under a certain level. Check with your local free clinic about their qualifications to see if you can get free care with them.
In addition to privately-run free clinics, your area might have a community health center you can visit. These centers are funded by the government and provide free or low-cost care to local citizens. You may have to show some proof of residency to get treatment at these centers, and there may be fees associated with some care. Most of them work on a sliding-scale fee arrangement that sets fees based on a person's income.
The range of care offered at community health centers can vary widely. Most of them provide primary care services, immunizations, as well as things like tests for COVID-19 and the flu. Some also offer other services like dental and gynecological services. They’re a great option if you need some basic care or if you’re looking for free or low-cost vaccinations.
Another great way to get the healthcare you need is to seek out charity care clinics in your area. These are different from free clinics in that they cover more extensive care needs than a basic free clinic. While free clinics usually only perform basic wellness visits and diagnostic care, charity care can cover everything up to and including hospital stays.
Depending on your situation and the charity in question, you may or may not be able to get your entire visit cost covered. Some charities may cover portions of your care based on their budget and your medical and financial situation. If you need hospital care, talk to them about whether they have any charity or financial aid programs that can help you cover costs.
If you do have health insurance, you may have some major medical care covered. You might even be able to get one or two primary care visits a year covered by your insurance. However, in many cases, you might have to pay a co-pay fee that can be almost as expensive as the visits without insurance.
There are several services that can help you to cover these copay expenses. How much assistance you can get will depend on your financial situation and which organization you’re working with. You may also have to apply for this assistance after your visit and wait for reimbursement from the organization.
If you aren’t eligible for other assistance programs but you still can’t afford your health costs, you might be able to work out a payment plan with your doctor. In this setup, you’ll pay a portion of your bill each month until you can pay it off. Whether you can arrange this will depend on the specific healthcare provider you work with.
Before you set up a payment plan, be sure to check if you’ll have to pay interest on these payments. It’s also a good idea to see if there are monthly minimums or a fixed amount of time in which you can pay off your bill. And make sure you get information about how to make these payments and when they will be due each month.
One amazing option for people seeking out family medicine without health insurance is a direct primary care membership. This is something of a subscription plan for medical care that operates separately from health insurance. You pay a flat monthly fee directly to your primary care provider, and in exchange, you’re able to access all of the primary care services they offer and schedule any visits needed. Services outside the office are not covered by the membership so health insurance is still recommended if possible.
Most practices also include around-the-clock access to your physician, so that you can reach them directly when concerns arise outside of office hours.
Because little time is spent on paperwork and dealing with insurance companies, direct primary care physicians have more time to spend getting to know you, listening, and intervening early. And the monthly membership fee, which gives you more access to your doctor, helps prevent more costly medical expenses such as emergency room visits, urgent care, and specialist visits.
Getting healthcare when you don’t have insurance can be devastatingly expensive. If you don’t have insurance, there are a number of options for you to get free or affordable healthcare. From free clinics and community health centers to direct primary care providers, you can get the care you need without going bankrupt.
If having a real relationship with a board-certified physician sounds appealing, check out the rest of our site at Promina Health. We provide modern healthcare you’ll love without the modern headaches. Join now and discover the joy of healthcare with no co-insurance, no co-pays, no hidden fees, and a genuine relationship with your doctor.