Nearly 50 million Americans do not have health insurance, according to studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Without a primary care physician, many uninsured Americans turn to emergency rooms for all of their medical needs. That’s because the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act mandates that hospitals provide emergency care to all patients regardless of whether or not they have insurance.
Unfortunately, emergency room care can cost thousands of dollars, which can lead to crippling debt for patients who already struggle to afford basic medical care. But even if you’re uninsured, there are several ways to receive quality, affordable medical care.
Here at Health First Family Medicine, your family medical practice in Hillsboro, OR, we understand that not all people in need of care have the insurance they need to properly take care of their family health care needs. So you can get the care need, here are a few things to consider when searching for health care without insurance.
Be Open About Your Ability to Pay
Health care providers want to help patients whenever possible, regardless of whether they have insurance. As a result, most health care providers are far more understanding than most people would believe. When talking about payment options with a provider, being open and honest about your financial situation and ability to pay can decrease, or even eliminate, fees. Some providers offer a sliding scale when it comes to payment, while others offer discounts to patients that pay in advance.
In situations where you have to go to the emergency room, immediately visit the hospital’s billing office when release. If you don’t have the money to pay your bill or are unemployed, it’s possible your entire bill could be waived.
Research Charitable Clinics
Organizations like the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFCC) help provide what they call “safety-net healthcare” for individuals without insurance, those without enough insurance to cover their required treatments, and to those who have no access to specialty, primary or prescription healthcare.
Nurse practitioners, pharmacists, therapists, nurses, dentists and doctors, with the help of volunteers, offer a variety of services at over 12,000 locations nationally in association with the NAFCC.
Click here to find out what community based health care services are available in your area.
If your spouse or partner has group health insurance, investigate whether his or her plan will cover you. If you or your spouse recently lost a job, find out whether you are still covered under the provisions in the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Because of the regulations in COBRA, employers are required to offer employees health insurance coverage after leaving employment. However, COBRA isn’t a catch all solution, and occasionally individual plans are actually cheaper overall.
Apply for Government Assistance
If you’re not covered under COBRA, apply for Medicaid. If you are not approved for Medicaid, apply to any available city or state medical assistance programs. Local medical assistance programs will usually help the uninsured or under-insured by offering care for free or at significantly reduced amount.
Cut Out the Middle Man
Many individuals without insurance turn to direct primary care providers (DPCP) as a low-cost solution. DPCPs charge patients a low monthly fee for unlimited office visits with a primary care physician.
What separates DPCPs from insurance companies is that they don’t have any policies regarding that exclude coverage based on preexiting condition. Most DPCPs also don’t cover the cost of medications or lab procedures, but many do offer some kind of discount.
If you or your family are in need of medical care, don’t let a lack of insurance stop you from contacting the Hillsboro family medical practice professionals at Health First Family Medicine. We’ll work with your budget so you and your family can receive the care you need.