Health Insurance: Where Can I Find a Free Clinic?

An Option for the Uninsured

mother and children sign in to doctor's office
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Millions of Americans go without health insurance coverage ever year. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 45 million Americans under the age of 65 go without health care coverage annually.

Unfortunately, those without health insurance will have a much more difficult time finding timely and affordable treatment for health issues, and overall medical care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it is estimated that 20,000 uninsured adults die prematurely annually due to timely treatment being unavailable.

Being uninsured severely limits an individual’s ability to obtain timely and affordable medical care. However, uninsured individuals still have several options when seeking medical care.

Options for the Uninsured

Several options exist for the uninsured. 

Charity care: As the name suggests, charity care is just that; charity. Charity care, also common referred to as uncompensated health care, is health care provided for free, or at a reduced cost. Many charity care don't have an income. Charity care must be applied for, and it is only available at participating hospitals and similar healthcare facilities.

Emergency rooms: Passed in 1986, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act requires emergency rooms across the United States to treat any and everyone who walks through the door, regardless of their health care plan or their ability to pay. Thus, the ER can be visited for free health care, although such visits should be saved for emergencies.

Free clinics: Free clinics provide health care to local low-income residents and needy individuals. They are available in communities and neighborhoods throughout the United States. These clinics can charge reduced rates or provide free care for patients with certain minor conditions. The fees at a free clinic typically depend on an individual’s income.

Health insurance coverage is not taken into account at free clinics, and thus they are a solid option for the uninsured.

Where to find such free clinics is a common question.       

Question: Where Can I Find a Free Clinic?

Answer: The uninsured have several options for obtaining health care, including free clinics. Free clinics provide health care for free or a reduced cost, depending on the patient's ability to pay. Patients are usually required to provide financial information demonstrating their need before receiving care.

Unfortunately, the uninsured may not know where to go to obtain this low-cost health care. There are several resources they can use to find a local clinic:

·         The National Association of Free Clinics. The National Association of Free Clinics has information about local clinics.

·         The Health Resources & Services Administration has a search engine for federally-funded clinics in each state.

·         Remote Area Medical offers free medical and dental "expeditions" in rural parts of Appalachia (TN, KY, and VA).

 

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