At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
It can be challenging to get affordable healthcare and most people who are insured have the advantage. Insurance tends to reduce the costs of healthcare or make many services available with a small copayment. This copayment usually represents a greatly discounted rate for things like doctor’s visits. Not everyone has insurance, and many people don’t live in countries with some form of national insurance plan. This creates the need for many people to find ways to pay for healthcare.
As mentioned, the main way to get affordable healthcare is to have insurance, and typically through your place of employment. Not all people are offered healthcare or the plans offered don’t cover enough. Some people make small salaries and can’t afford their share of insurance payments.
There are other ways to obtain health insurance. Check with associations like alumni associations that may give you a less expensive plan. Sometimes credit unions or other agencies offer lower fee healthcare. For people who are young and in good health, cost of private plans may not be prohibitive.
Another method people should investigate is potential qualification for government insurance plans. In the US, for instance, many low wage workers qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid works similarly to private health insurance but is available to people of certain incomes only. It is also available to people with lower wages who have disabilities.
Government health usually covers almost all costs of most medical services but you may need to use designated Medicaid providers. Availability of these providers varies as to area and it can sometimes be difficult to find doctors accepting new Medicaid patients. If you have a previous relationship with a physician, he may be more likely to accept Medicaid from you.
People who do not qualify for affordable healthcare through Medicaid may still be able to insure their kids through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Parents or caregivers pay small monthly payments to insurance companies working with CHIP, and usually then are given an HMO or a PPO through the insurance they choose. Provided you stay within income requirements, you can carry health insurance on your children for extremely low fees.
There are some hospitals and facilities throughout the US called Hill-Burton facilities that must take patients for free or on a sliding scale, but these are not available everywhere. If you can’t get insurance through Medicaid or through an employer, you may want to investigate these facilities on the US Department of Health and Human Resources website. You can also look on the site for clinics that offer free services or sliding scale fees. Your community can have a number of private charitable clinics too that can help you get affordable healthcare.
If you lack insurance and don’t qualify for free or low priced health insurance, you may still be able to get affordable healthcare by negotiating with healthcare providers. Some doctors and medical facilities like hospitals can give discounts to uninsured people, but you’ll usually need to make arrangements in advance of services. This doesn’t necessarily help if you need care in an emergency, unless you have a prior arrangement with a doctor.
Another thing to investigate when looking for affordable healthcare are health discount insurance companies. These give you small discounts on things from prescriptions to doctor’s visits. While they won’t make healthcare cheap, they can make it slightly less expensive.