Healthcare Without Insurance
After the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law in 2010, it became mandatory to have health insurance or pay a hefty fine. For most people, this means paying for health insurance through an employer, accessing health coverage through a private insurance provider, or receiving insurance that is facilitated by the government via HealthCare.gov, which is the government's health insurance website.
ACA Ripple Effect
The ACA has helped many people who never had health insurance become insured and receive needed medical care. However, there are others that still struggle to afford health insurance, maybe because their employer's premiums and deductibles have gone up, their private insurance coverage isn't as inclusive as it once was, or they earn too much money to qualify for a subsidy that lowers the premiums they pay for marketplace insurance.
If you are one of the many people out there who make too much money to qualify for a subsidy but feel that marketplace premiums are too expensive, you may be considering forgoing insurance, paying the fine, and taking your chances with other creative ways to stay healthy.
Here are five places you can go to receive care without insurance.
1. Hospital Health Fairs
Many community hospitals and health systems host health fairs that offer blood work and other preventative screenings at a greatly reduced price. Visit the website of your local hospital to find out if and when they host health fairs and if you need to register in advance to attend.
2. Pharmacy Care Clinics
Check if your local pharmacy will be holding a healthcare clinic soon. Many pharmacies offer blood pressure, blood sugar, vital checks for free. Additionally, during certain national disease awareness months your pharmacy may also offer free screenings.
3. Employer-Sponsored Preventative Care
Many employers have wellness programs that are run by human resource departments. If your employer offers a wellness program, check with your human resources department to find out about free and low-cost health services you can receive at work. It could be free flu shots, inexpensive cholesterol screenings, or gym memberships at a reduced price.
4. Free or Reduced-Cost Care at Teaching Hospitals
If you live near a teaching hospital, or a hospital that is affiliated with a university medical school, you may be able to access free or inexpensive healthcare. For example, dental students need real-life patients to practice their skills on, so you may be able to get free teeth cleanings. Call them beforehand to find out which departments at the teaching hospital need volunteers and see if anything fits in with your healthcare needs.
5. State or County Departments of Health
Your local state or county department of health may offer free or reduced-cost medical services to eligible individuals. Check with your state or county health department to find out what types of medical services they offer. For example, during outbreaks of preventable diseases, such as whooping cough or the flu, the state or county department of health will offer immunization clinics that are open to the public. These clinics can be another great way to get important shots for free