What to Do if You Need Medical Care Without Insurance
If you don’t have health insurance, getting medical care can feel daunting and expensive, but there are more healthcare options for patients without insurance than you might guess.
Some medical providers offer services for individuals without health insurance. Bills can often be negotiated, discounts are available, and federal funding can help keep healthcare at low-cost even for the uninsured.
How Much Does it Cost to Go to the Doctor Without Health Insurance?
Without health insurance the average doctor appointment costs between $300-$600.
However, this number will vary depending on the services and treatment needed, as well as the type of doctor’s office.
By using some of the tips below you can minimize your medical costs, even without insurance, to ensure you don’t break the bank trying to stay healthy.
How to Get a Lower Price on Medical Bills
There are a few questions you can ask before your visit that can help reduce medical costs.
Ask if a facility has a “sliding scale” to help lower income patients. Sliding scales help match your medical bills to your income level.
You can also ask for generic medications, charity-care options, or if they have discounts for patients paying cash (paying with cash can reduce the cost by as much as 90%).
Additionally, negotiating medical bills before or after the visit can help make medical expenses more manageable.
Medical coding errors are surprisingly common and it is always worth double checking your bills.
You can do this yourself or get a professional to do it for a fraction of what they save you (approximately 15% to 30%).
Health Savings Accounts
You can deposit money into a health savings account to help prepare for the unexpected.
Many employers offer a matching contribution and all money put into these accounts is tax-free (when used for medical expenses).
Taxes are roughly 30% of our income, so using a health savings account is like saving 30% on your medical costs (or 60% if you get a match from your employer).
Going to the Right Facility
Medical costs vary depending on what type of facility you go to. If you are paying out-of-pocket for your medical care, it is extra important to know what constitutes emergency vs. urgent vs. primary care. You want to get appropriate care with an appropriate bill.
Federal law requires all emergency rooms to provide care to patients who come in. This means they cannot turn you away if you are uninsured, but it does not mean that emergency room care is free.
Emergency room care is the most expensive type and should only be used when absolutely necessary.
“If you are paying cash for your medical care, you would be a fool to use the ED (emergency department) for a minor medical problem.” – Rod Moser, PA, PhD, WebMD
Consider going to an emergency room if you are faced with a medical event that poses a threat to a person’s life or limb.
What if I don’t Have Insurance but Have a Medical Emergency?
The best thing to do in a moment of a medical emergency is to go to an emergency room, even if you or a loved one is uninsured. When possible, inform the staff that you are uninsured and inquire about lower-cost options.
Urgent care facilities are useful for health issues that need to be addressed in a timely manner but do not necessarily require emergency care. Can you wait several hours or more, but not long enough for a scheduled office visit with your primary care provider? If “yes” is your answer then you should consider seeking urgent care.
When scheduling appointments with a primary care physician, it can take weeks or months to get you into their next opening. During this time you can call around and ask about options for uninsured patients.
Some health clinics receive federal funding and provide low-cost or free health services. The most common medical services provided by these clinics include reproductive health care (e.g. STD testing, contraceptives, etc.), and mental health care (e.g. depression, anxiety, etc.).
Can You Go to a Free Clinic Without Insurance?
Yes, you can go to a free clinic without insurance.
Free clinics provide health services for little to no cost. Each clinic works differently to meet the medical needs of their community.
For some low income individuals without insurance, free clinics will offer services at no cost to the patient. Others may charge a low fee for treatment, but this is often cheaper in comparison to other healthcare facilities.
Call your community clinic ahead of your appointment and ask what you will be charged.
Can doctors refuse to treat patients without insurance?
A commonly asked question is: Can a hospital kick you out for no insurance?
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) ensures that all patients with or without insurance that are suffering from an emergency condition must be treated until that condition is stabilized.
That said, if your condition is not an emergency and you are seeking treatment from a private doctor, the doctor has the right to refuse treatment if you are unable to pay for the services.
How Do I See a Doctor if I Don’t Have Insurance?
Seeing a doctor online for both urgent and primary care is a great way to keep medical costs down. At PlushCare you can receive treatment from an online doctor with or without insurance.
With no health insurance, appointments cost just $99. This can save you hundreds of dollars compared to an in person visit.
PlushCare doctors can help you with most of your primary and urgent care needs. We have same day appointments available and you can get world-class treatment from the comfort of your own home at an affordable price.
During your online session you will go over your medical history, symptoms, and treatment plan.
The doctor will do their best to recommend affordable treatment options for uninsured patients.
If the doctor is unable to treat you online, your appointment is totally free.
Telemedicine apps like PlushCare use modern technology to help people of all income levels have equal access to quality healthcare.
Try it out today and book an appointment here.
Read More About Doctors For Patients Without Insurance
- Online Doctor | Primary Care
- Getting PrEP without Insurance
- How Do Online Doctors Visits Work?
- What Conditions Do Online Doctors Treat?
miamilawyer.com Can a Doctor Refuse to Treat a Patient Without Insurance? Accessed October 7, 2019, at http://injury-lawyer-miami.com/can-a-doctor-refuse-to-treat-a-patient-without-insurance-2/
debt.org. What’s the Average Cost of a Doctors Appointment. Accessed October 7, 2019, at https://www.debt.org/medical/doctor-visit-costs/
acep.org. EMTALA Fact Sheet. Accessed April 2, 2020 at https://www.acep.org/life-as-a-physician/ethics–legal/emtala/emtala-fact-sheet/
cms.gov. Regulations and Guidance. Accessed April 2, 2020 at https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EMTALA
urac.org. Telehealth Offers Cost Savings. Accessed April 2, 2020 at https://www.urac.org/blog/telehealth-offers-cost-savings-opportunities-hospitals-and-patients
Zibulewsky J. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA): what it is and what it means for physicians. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2001 Oct;14(4):339-46.