Friday, July 5, 2013

Where can I find free health care?

One of the questions we get asked most often on our website is "where can I find free health care?"  Even with the Affordable Care Act mandating health insurance plans be purchased and coverage for the uninsured be expanded through programs such as Medicaid, there will continue to be at least 30 million uninsured in the United States.
No money
Two types of providers that people seeking free or low cost health care services should contact are Free Clinics  and FQHCs- Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Free Clinics provide a wide array of medical services based on the generosity of individuals, volunteers, corporate sponsors, fundraising events, local health care system sponsorship and insurance plan grants.  Some are open 5 days a week, take appointments, and operate similarly to a regular physician office environment. Others operate with fewer hours and take a limited amount of patients on a first come, first served basis. All will ask for proof of income to determine if you are eligible for their services.  Be sure to call before seeking services. To search for a free clinic near you, check out the search on our website.

Federally Qualified Health Centers provide more services than most free clinics such as dental and mental health services. Many hire physicians, nurse practitioners, and office staff to run regular full time office hours during the weekday. Federally Qualified Health Centers do take almost all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid as well as commercial insurances. They also offer a sliding scale based income with some paying little or nothing for services. Be sure to call and ask before seeking services. They typically will help those that qualify for Medicaid apply and assist in determining other programs eligibility in your state. To search for a FQHC in your area, check out the search on our website.

Here are some other articles you may find helpful:
Ten Tips to Control Health Care Costs
Federally Qualified Health Centers by State
Low Cost Health Care and Assistance Programs
6 Tips to Control Health Care Costs
Free Clinic Search by State

If you seek services from a free clinic or FQHC (or any health care provider), please come back to Where To Find and share your experience. Your review will help others in your community learn about more about that specific health care provider. And be sure to take down the names of anyone who exceeds your expectations. We have a place for you to tell us about them on the survey (see Care Stars).

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