If you can’t get to the doctor because you are homebound or penniless or lack transportation or lack insurance or can’t afford co-pays, don’t give up hope. Just get scrappy. If you are willing to be a little creative and persistent, there may be a way:
💐 Free clinics
Try looking into free clinics in your area. If you are not eligible for your local free clinic or there is no clinic near you, you can call the nearest one ask them if there are other services available in your area.
💐 Health Centers
Try contacting Federally Qualified Health Centers in your area.
Try contacting all local hospitals and ask if any of them have financial aid or charity care programs. These are only available in some areas. Important: In most cases, you must apply for these programs BEFORE you go to the hospital. It takes about a month to get approved. I have met people who have gotten expensive surgeries and procedures completely free this way.
You can also consider moving to a different area, or living with relatives or friends in a different state and changing your residency. This is a pretty radical solution, but if you need a life-saving procedure or operation, it is worth considering.
“I was in so much pain every day that I could not work and I had no way to pay for medical care. After I got evicted, I moved across the state and slept on a friend’s couch. The first day I arrived, I applied for a financial aid program at the local hospital. Two months later, I got a $15,000 surgery, plus expensive eczema medications, plus free physical therapy twice a week. Getting evicted is the best thing that ever happened to me.” – VN
If you applied for Medicaid and got turned down, don’t give up just yet. Here are about ten more ways you can qualify for medicaid that you probably didn’t know about.
💐 Medicaid – Try again!
If you never applied for Medicaid because you are 100% certain you are not eligible, don’t be so sure. Once again, there are some little-known ways to qualify for Medicaid when you think you won’t.
💐 Medicare Co-Pays
If you are on Medicare but can’t afford the co-pays, look into a programs that pay your Medicare co-pays.
💐 Other Insurance Co-Pays
If you are on a different form of health insurance and can’t afford the co-pays or deductibles, in some states you can apply for Medicaid and Medicaid will cover these costs. Also check this list of How To Be Broke & Medicated for a list of nonprofit programs that will sometimes pay co-pays.
💐 Home Care
If you can’t get to the doctor because you are homebound or unable to travel, try these ideas for home medical care. (scroll down to section on doctors).
💐 State Programs
Some states have health insurance programs for people who have disabilities and are working. Quite honestly, I do not know which states have these programs, or how to find them. If someone knows more, please post below. As an example, here is the one in Massachusetts. They require working 10 hours per week. You do not have to be on Social Security, they can assess you for disability through their own process.
💐 Meds & Supplements
If you are looking for ways to pay for prescriptions and supplements, check out these ways to get free or discounted meds.
Some laboratories have financial aid programs that will allow you to get bloodwork and other tests for free! Here’s an example of one from Quest Labs.
💐 Hill Burton
Due to some special laws and loopholes, these Hill Burton facilities are obligated to provide free or low-cost medical care whether they want to or not! See if there is a program in your area. Hint: The free care won’t be automatic. You must contact them and request an application and enroll in the financial aid program.
💐 Make a Better Estimate
When you apply for insurance through the Healthcare Marketplace, you are asked to estimate your income in the upcoming year. Many people don’t know what their income will be. In this case, the instructions say, “Just do your best to make a realistic estimate.”
A lot of people think: “I’ll just guess really low. Low is good!” Sounds logical, but it doesn’t always work that way. Low can be bad! If your income is too low, in some states you can get Medicaid, but in some states there is no Medicaid expansion so you can’t get any insurance at all.
If this happened to you, it is helpful to know the minimum income requirements for Healthcare Marketplace. (Scroll down for the chart. Boy did I have to look forever for this link. They do not like to give you this information. These numbers are for 2016, may be a little higher now).
💐 Dire Need
If you are applying for disability, you can make a “dire need request” to Social Security. This won’t get you a doctor, but it could speed up your application. After you are approved, then you will have insurance! If you need critical or life-saving medical care that you cannot afford, include this in your dire need request.
If you don’t have transportation to get to the doctor, you can try these ideas for free transportation.
💐 Long Distance Transport
💐 Get the hell out of Texas
Every time I meet someone from Texas, they can’t get medical care. The programs have all been cut, and they must just have really bad services there. If there is any possibility you can be anywhere else, may be worth considering.
💐 Help Navigating All of This
The Patient Advocate Foundation provides free case management services
Social Security disability automatically comes with Medicaid or Medicare or both. Sometimes there is a waiting period for Medicare. If you are in the waiting period, you can apply for Medicaid while waiting.
💐 Disability – Think again!
If you think you are not eligible to apply for disability, you may be right, or you may be wrong. Every now and then I meet someone who is wrong about this, and that is a happy day. Please double check: Fifteen Ways to Qualify for Disability After You Were Told You Don’t Qualify for Disability
💐 Faster Disability.
If you are already applying for disability, you will automatically get disability after you are approved. But that will be three years from now! Or will it? How to Greatly Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved Quicker
If you try everything you can and you STILL can’t get to the doctor, Social Security will accept that you have a good reason. However, you have got to let Social Security know your reason for not going to the doctor.
You also may find some leads on the Need Help Paying Bills site. Slightly outdated and some programs no longer exist, but overall a great site.
Updated April 2017 by Lily Silver. Please comment below with stories, questions, input or ideas. Please let me know if any links on this page stop working. 💐