Day 84 – Supplying Free Medical Services

KFF.org report: For the third year in a row, the number of uninsured increased in 2019. In 2019, 28.9 million nonelderly individuals were uninsured, an increase of more than one million from 2018. Coverage losses were driven by declines in Medicaid and non-group coverage and were particularly large among Hispanic people and for children.

Three in ten uninsured adults in 2019 went without needed medical care due to cost. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that uninsured people are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases. The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic has renewed attention on health insurance coverage as millions have lost their jobs and potentially their health coverage.

WIKI: In the United States, charity care is health care provided for free or at reduced prices to low income patients. However, the percentage of doctors providing charity care has steadily dropped since the late 1990s. Potential reasons for the decline include changes in physician practice patterns and increasing financial pressures. Senate investigators have found that many hospitals do not inform patients that charity care was available. Investigators also found non-profit hospitals charging poor, uninsured patients more than they did patients with health insurance.

There is little more vexing than being seriously sick/injured yet not having the resources to seek needed medical assistance. Even worse is not being able to provide help for a sick child. Fortunately there are many sources of help, though they might take a little tenacious detective work to dig up.

Healthcare.gov: If you can’t afford any health plan and don’t qualify for coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can get low-cost health care at a nearby community health center. How much you pay depends on your income. Locate a center near you. 

SingleCare.com provides a number of helpful suggestions for how to see a doctor when you don’t have health insurance along with steps you can take to minimize cost: 

  • Mention you are uninsured
  • Shop around for care that fits your budget
  • Ask for a payment plan
  • Double-check your bills
  • Use prescription savings cards
  • Ask for drug samples or a generic version
  • Check to see if you’re eligible for Medicaid

Livestrong.org: Health Care Assistance for Uninsured. A variety of health care assistance programs are available to help those who have a financial need. Knowing about the most common types of health care assistance programs can help you get the best and most affordable health care available for your situation. Their website also lists common health care assistance programs available.

The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) is the only nonprofit 501c(3) organization whose mission is solely focused on the issues and needs of the medically underserved throughout the nation and the more than 1,400 Free and Charitable Clinics and Charitable Pharmacies that serve them that provide a wide range of services to 2 million medically underserved people throughout the nation annually. Search for a clinic near you. Donate.