How to Access Healthcare Without Health Insurance
Accessing health insurance is a constant worry for many Americans and for anyone whose country doesn’t offer free healthcare. Too often, people go without the medical care they need because they don’t have health insurance or because they are worried that their insurance won’t cover the necessary treatment.
If at all possible, you should get yourself health insurance. Cut down on some other expenses, apply for jobs that offer health insurance as part of their compensation package, or get yourself added to your parents’ or spouse’s insurance plan if possible. However, if all else fails, there are ways in which you can access healthcare even without insurance. Here are some of them.
Enroll onto Medicaid
Medicaid is a federal program that requires states to provide affordable healthcare to certain groups of people, such as:
- those on a low income;
- eligible pregnant people;
- eligible children;
- eligible elderly people;
- eligible people with disabilities.
Under Medicaid, you are entitled to free or low-cost prescriptions, free transport to hospital in an ambulance, hospital stays capped at $15 per night, and more. To find out whether you’re eligible for Medicaid, visit your state’s Medicaid webpage.
Check if you’re eligible for Medicare
Medicare is another federal program under which certain groups of people can access healthcare. Medicare works in a similar way to private health insurance, and you can access it without paying if:
- you are over 65, and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least tenyears;
- you are over 65 and eligible to receive retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board;
- you are over 65, and you or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment;
- you are a person of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease, which is defined as ‘permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant’;
- you are a person of any age who has been eligible for eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance for at least two years.
Pay for healthcare out of pocket
If you’re not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, you can still access healthcare, but you will usually have to pay for your visits, treatment, and prescriptions out of pocket. If you find yourself requiring medical care and you have no health insurance, a way to keep your expenses down is to make sure that you go through as few steps as possible in order to access the healthcare services you need. For example, Express MRI will give you an MRI scan without the need for a referral from a doctor, soif you think there might be something wrong with, say, your spine, you could get that checked out with an MRI before consulting a specialist. If the scan reveals that there’s no damage to your spine, then you may not need to see a specialist at all!
Look for a charitable organization
Finally, there are plenty of non-governmental organizations thatprovide free clinics and pharmacies or help with paying medical bills to those on a low income. Do an internet search for what’s available in your area or ask your social worker to signpost you.