Free medical care may seem like an oxymoron. But before you shell out for a pricey after hours diagnosis of a cold at an urgent care clinic, or sit in an emergency room all night just to find out you have a sprained ankle, check out our suggestions of where you might be able to get medical care on the cheap.
Insurance company nursing advice lines
Perhaps you want to know if your ailment necessitates treatment in the first place. In these situations, you may be able to talk to a trained registered nurse, available 24/7 to answer medical questions. This is an invaluable triage service that is provided by most insurance plans that many insured people don’t even realize exists. True, it’s not completely free, because it costs money to maintain a health insurance plan. But, you might as well take full advantage of your investment. Some examples of companies with nursing hotlines for policy holders: Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthPartners, HumanaFirst, TriCare, Aetna and Kaiser Permanente.
If you are strapped for cash and in need of women’s health services, Planned Parenthood should be your go-to website for information about affordable care in your area. Some sites offer free services such as HPV vaccines, birth control, STI screening and counseling, pregnancy testing, HIV testing and annual gynecological exams, through government programs such as the Family Planning Benefit Program (FPBP).
The only way for doctors to become experts in seeing patients is through lots and lots of practice. To aid in this, many medical schools offer free or reduced-cost clinics that accept patients from the public. Medical students are supervised by certified physicians, and you may receive care comparable to that available at a payment-based walk-in clinic. A few free clinics include those at Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and NYU Medical School. If there is a medical school in your area, check out their website to see if they have a similar option.
Find a low-cost community health center
Available at Healthcare.gov, here’s a list of low-cost options for people who do not qualify for Medicaid or the CHIP program. You can also visit the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics or use this center finder, which has information about almost 12,500 free clinics.
TapGenes Take Away: No-cost and low-cost medical care could be close to home or available to you online. Here’s how to get started.
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