Finding affordable healthcare without insurance may seem daunting, but there are more options than you may think. Here are more than 18 resources that can provide assistance.
It’s no secret that accessing healthcare can be very expensive. If you don’t have insurance, those costs are even higher. In fact, 85% of uninsured people in the United States reported that paying for healthcare was difficult in 2022.
Fortunately, there are resources that can help you find and pay for medical care without insurance. You can find care at low or no cost with a variety of programs designed to help people without health insurance get the care they need.
Yes, you can get medical care if you don’t have health insurance.
In the United States, hospital emergency rooms are required to provide treatment regardless of insurance or ability to pay.
Additionally, there are many medical facilities that provide routine care to people who don’t have insurance. You will be asked to pay for any care you receive, but there are ways to find healthcare at a lower cost.
There are a variety of options for seeking care if you don’t have insurance. Many of these options are designed to be affordable. In some cases, you might be able to get certain healthcare services for free.
You can find low cost or free care in several locations:
Community health centers
Community health centers are nonprofit health clinics that offer low cost or free care. Often, fees are set on an income-based sliding scale, and staff will work with you to determine your costs.
The exact services offered by a community health center depend on the location but generally include:
- preventive healthcare
- basic healthcare
- family planning services
- chronic condition management
Some community health centers also offer prescription medications and dental care. You can search for community health centers near you by checking here.
State or county departments of health
Your state or county department of health might cover certain healthcare services for eligible residents. Often, this includes access to preventive care, such as vaccines or screenings.
You might need to register in advance and prove that you reside in the county or state to receive free care.
You can search for your local department of health here.
Urgent care and walk-in clinics
Urgent care centers and walk-in clinics offer care without an appointment. Often, these facilities offer reduced cost care for people who don’t have insurance. Some urgent care centers list costs for standard services on their websites.
You can also call ahead to talk with a representative about fees and possible cost reductions for people without insurance.
Pharmacy care clinics
Pharmacies, including the pharmacies inside major national chains such as Walmart, often provide preventive care services for free. These services are normally provided during health clinics held on specific days.
Services offered can vary but typically include:
You can check with your local pharmacy about any upcoming clinics, or search online for pharmacy clinics in your area.
If you have a teaching hospital in your area, you might be able to receive care at a reduced rate. The exact care you can access at a reduced rate depends on the hospital and the needs of the medical students.
You can call the teaching hospital and ask whether they offer any reduced cost care.
Employer-sponsored wellness programs
Some employers offer wellness programs to their employees. In many cases, this includes preventive healthcare, such as annual vaccines and healthcare screenings.
You can check in with your human resources department if you’re not sure what healthcare benefits are part of your employer’s wellness program.
The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics
You can use the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics website to search for health clinics and pharmacies in your area that offer free or low cost services.
The association is dedicated to caring for people who are uninsured or underinsured. There are more than 1,400 clinics and pharmacies in the association.
If you need assistance paying for care, you have a handful of options:
Some states offer charity care that reduces the cost of medical care for people who meet income requirements. If you qualify, you can receive low cost or free medical care.
In certain states, people are screened automatically. In other states, you will need to apply for the program.
Medicaid is a federal program that provides healthcare for people who meet income requirements. Each state oversees its own Medicaid program. Income limits and exact coverage vary by state.
You can find your state’s Medicaid website here.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal program that provides healthcare for children. Just like Medicaid, qualifying for the program depends on income level. Each state sets its own income limits and coverage varies.
You can read about CHIP in your state here.
The Hill-Burton program
The Hill-Burton program provides funds to participating hospitals and healthcare facilities in exchange for offering a set amount of free or low cost care to people who meet income requirements.
You will need to apply for the Hill-Burton program with the admissions or business department of the healthcare facility. You can find a directory of Hill-Burton facilities here.
Aunt Bertha is a social and human services database you can search to find programs in your area. This includes programs that can help you pay for healthcare.
You can enter your ZIP code and a category to find programs that will meet your needs.
Keeping prescription costs low is a great way to lower your overall healthcare costs. Here are some options:
Prescription drug manufacturer programs
The makers of many prescription drugs offer programs to help people afford their medications. You can often join these programs to get your medication at low or no cost. You might need to meet certain income requirements to qualify.
You can use RXAssist to search a database of manufacturer programs.
GoodRx is a website that will show you the prices of your medication at stores in your local area. It can also show prices at online and mail-order pharmacies. By comparing pharmacies, you can find the lowest price.
Plus, GoodRx will even help you find coupons and manufacturer discounts.
Walmart, CVS, and other pharmacies have membership programs that can save you money. By signing up for these programs, you can get access to discounts on your medication. You can also earn discounts to use on other pharmacy purchases.
Grants for charitable organizations can cover your medical costs. Some examples include:
The PAN Foundation
The PAN Foundation helps uninsured people who have received a diagnosis of a life threatening, chronic, or rare disease pay for their medical care. You can see a list of conditions the foundation currently provides assistance for on its website.
If you have a condition listed on the site, you can instantly check your eligibility and can then apply online for a grant.
The HealthWell Foundation
The HealthWell Foundation helps uninsured people with certain medical conditions pay for their medical expenses. You can see their list of covered conditions on its website.
If you have a condition covered on the site, you can apply for a grant that will cover your medical expenses.
Good Days is an organization that can help people with chronic and acute conditions pay for their medical treatments. You can check out the list of covered conditions here.
Applications for assistance are available in both English and Spanish.
There are a few additional options you can explore to get access to lower cost or free healthcare. If you haven’t already, consider doing the following:
- Ask the hospital or doctor’s office about installment payment programs.
- Search for programs specific to a health condition you have.
- Apply for low cost health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
- If you’re a veteran, apply for VA benefits.
- Sign up for clinical trials in your area to help researchers study new treatments.
- Consider telehealth for conditions that don’t need in-person care.
You can learn more about accessing medical care without insurance by reading answers to common questions.
When can I enroll in Medicaid?
If you qualify for Medicaid, you can enroll at any time. Check out your state’s Medicaid website for income limits and other details.
What if I can’t pay an emergency room bill?
In an emergency, getting care is your No. 1 priority. But this can leave you with a bill that is outside of your budget, especially if you don’t have insurance.
However, medical bills are often negotiable. In many cases, you can call the hospital’s billing department to work out a plan.
If you’re unable to work out a plan with the hospital, there are nonprofit organizations that can help you apply for debt forgiveness.
Will healthcare professionals treat me if I don’t have insurance?
It’s illegal for healthcare professionals to refuse care in an emergency.
This isn’t the case for nonemergency care. Most healthcare professionals will list payments they accept on their websites.
If private pay is listed, you can get treatment without insurance. If it’s not, it’s best to call in advance to make sure the healthcare professional accepts patients who don’t have insurance.
You have options for receiving medical care even when you don’t have health insurance. There are several sources you can turn to for care, prescriptions, payment help, and more. Some programs are limited to certain states or certain health conditions.
Additionally, you will need to meet income requirements to qualify for some of these programs. If you don’t, options like telehealth and urgent care can help you cut costs.
You can also look into getting affordable insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.