How Can I Get Free Emergency Care?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

A lack of money or medical insurance doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot get help when you have an urgent medical problem. Depending on where you live, local hospitals may provide free emergency care or agree to bill you for services. Dental schools may provide free dental care if you meet their income guidelines, and community health clinics provide some types of medical help as well.

Free emergency care might be available at a hospital.
Free emergency care might be available at a hospital.

Many hospitals will provide care without upfront payment. In the event that you have an injury, illness, or condition you believe requires urgent treatment, you can often present yourself as an uninsured patient and get the medical attention you need. This may not apply to hospitals in every country, however, and some might not treat you without payment. On the other hand, some hospitals in some countries provide free care to all residents. You can research hospitals online to learn which ones offer care despite an inability to pay or call the hospital at which you want service to learn about its payment policies.

As you research hospitals at which you can receive the treatment you need, you may do well to remember that many hospitals will expect you to pay eventually. For example, if you are treated in an emergency room without insurance or cash payment, many hospitals will bill you for the services you receive later. In such a case, you aren’t really receiving free emergency care. Instead, the payment requirement is merely deferred. Some hospitals might also have programs for low-income people who make the cost of care more affordable or forgive your bill.

You might consider turning to a dental school when you are in need of urgent dental care. This may prove appropriate if you are in extreme pain or have swelling of the gums, fever with dental pain, or other signs of infection. In such a case, a dental school may consider your income, and if your income meets its guidelines, provide free emergency care. If your income isn’t low enough to make you eligible for free care, the dental school might offer discounted services instead.

Besides information about local hospitals that provide free emergency care, the health department in your area may provide a list of other practitioners capable of helping you. For example, it might offer a listing of community health clinics that will provide care for conditions and injuries that are urgent but do not require treatment in a hospital setting. These clinics usually base their fees for service on income, with the lowest income people getting free care and others charged on a sliding scale.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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