Medical care is costly and for people without health insurance, it can sometimes be unaffordable. For some families, choosing to obtain medical care can mean going without household essentials or having to save up money before visiting a healthcare provider for treatment. Some hospitals and clinics are willing to work out payment arrangements based on the patient’s income and most hospitals will not deny emergency treatment based on a patient’s inability to pay. But if you don’t have an income or if your situation requires that you get free medical care, you do have some options. To find free medical care follow these steps.
Go to your local hospital. According to an October 2007 article in the Detroit Free Press, US hospitals provide billions of dollars worth of free care each year and are required to do so to keep their tax exempt status. Most hospitals have a standing policy that states that they will not refuse to treat a person based on their inability to pay. You often see these signs displayed in hospital lobbies and waiting areas. Hospitals often have charity programs that provide free medical care for people who have low income or who are uninsured. When you arrive at the hospital, tell the person who registers you that you can't afford medical care. If the hospital has a charity program, they can provide you with the information and application you need to be considered for free care. Most times, your income has to fall within certain guidelines to be eligible for free care.
Visit a free clinic. Churches, non-profit organizations and even private medical care providers often host free medical clinics. Although the appointments are limited and the treatment may be on a first come first serve basis, free clinics can usually be found in large cities and low income areas.
Contact a medical school. Many medical schools have programs where doctors in training treat patients free of charge. This medical care is often very good because the students are carefully supervised by their training physicians.
Visit a federally funded healthcare center. At these centers you only pay what you can afford, based on your income. If you have no income, you can usually get free medical care. The US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Administration department oversees these clinics. Community Health Centers under this plan provide healthcare services regardless of your ability or inability to pay or if you have or do not have health insurance. Hill-Burton obligated facilities under this program to provide free or reduced cost care based on family size and income level. Each facility dictates what care and what cost they will provide.
Get a private referral. If someone you know knows a physician, he may be able to get you free care. If a physician knows that a patient is in financial need, he may offer his services at no cost.
Research medical care assistance programs. Some states have programs that mandate free healthcare for women, pregnant women, and children or veterans. Check with your local department of health to see what programs your state offers. There are also national medical care assistance programs like the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program for example, that provide free or low cost mammograms and pap smears to low and no income women.