How to Care for the Uninsured

1.

Seek medical attention at a community medical clinic. These are usually sponsored by your local Department of Health and staffed by medical professionals. Payment can range from free to $50, depending on income and ability to pay. Expect to sit for long hours before you see a doctor, and call your county's Department of Health to find out which clinics are available in your area.

2.

Go to a hospital emergency room. Most of them are required to treat individuals no matter what their economic status is or if they don't have health insurance. Once you receive a bill for your treatment, speak with the billing or accounts department of the hospital, and explain your financial situation. Most hospitals will work with you on setting up a payment plan that is feasible for you. If you fall behind in making payments, your debt to the hospital may be turned over to a collections agency, or a judgment may be brought against you.

3.

Consider applying to go to a college or university clinic. Students studying medicine who work in these clinics need patients in order to gain experience. Look online at the United States Medical Schools website, http://biomed.uaa.alaska.edu/usa\_medical\_school\_list.html. It lists medical schools in the United States and website information, where you can find contact information for medical clinics.

4.

Think about employing the use of alternative health care treatments. While you will have to pay out-of-pocket for expenses, many treatments offered by holistic practitioners, such as acupuncturists, naturopaths, homeopaths, Ayurvedic practitioners and the like, provide treatments for mild to more serious conditions at a much lower cost than conventional health care providers. Go to www.talkinternational.com/directories/health-services-directory.html for the Holistic Doctors-Alternative Health Care Provider Directory for the names and locations of holistic practitioners who are closest to you.

5.

Get help from the Veteran's Administration. This option is available to honorably-discharged, as well as active-duty individuals who have served in a branch of the United States military. The VA provides doctors, diagnostic tests, treatments and prescription medications at no or discounted costs, depending upon your level of eligibility. Call (800) 827-1000 for more information.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure that you find a way to receive medical help to avoid putting your health at further risk.
  • The number of uninsured Americans has been growing steadily due to factors such as the slumping economy, poverty, job loss, failure of employers to offer health coverage and inability to pay for the rising cost of health insurance. These challenges limit access to quality health care and put the uninsured and their families at risk for disease and illness. Despite these obstacles, there are some options that may be available to the uninsured.