If you’re sick, the first thing you need to do is set an appointment for a check-up. Well, if you live in the United States and are among the millions of people who are either underinsured or uninsured, seeking medical treatment might not be quite easy. Since the price of health care provided by hospitals can be outrageously expensive, more Californians now prefer to use home health care services.
So, how can you avail of home health care San Diego residents currently enjoy? You do have a few options, but it may depend on where you live, what kind of medical treatment you need, and other factors unique to your situation. But if you can afford one, you could try to get yourself and your family covered by a health insurance as it can be a valuable tool to keep your family healthy.
How To See A Doctor If You Don’t Have Insurance
First of all, you shouldn’t stop seeing a doctor just because it’s expensive. Doing so could cost your health and it might also be more expensive down the line if you don’t get treated early. Even though you don’t have health insurance or you have one that doesn’t have enough coverage, there are still ways to get medical treatments such as acute care, preventive care, emergency care, or urgent care.
So, how do you seek medical attention without health insurance? You should look for these facilities in your area:
1. Community Health Clinics
There’s likely a community health clinic (CHC) in your area. These facilities offer free or low-cost medical treatments. They could also provide some of the most basic yet important care for many people like vaccinations and preventive screenings, without being wildly expensive or requiring insurance.
Many CHCs also have a ‘sliding scale’ payment scheme where you will be charged based on your income or if you qualify for free services. These facilities are very important since they serve people who aren’t covered by health insurance.
2. Walk-in Clinics
If you need more frequent medical treatments, you can go to walk-in clinics. Like community health clinics, they accept cash payments if you don’t have insurance. You can set an appointment to see a doctor from these clinics and you will be billed for each session. But some of them don’t come cheap, so make sure to look around and ask if their costs are upfront.
Still, some walk-in clinics provide their medical services at reduced rates. Some of them may also offer to help you get free or low-cost health insurance.
3. Direct Care Providers
Direct care providers only cater to the uninsured and you will be charged with a fee after every visit. Some facilities that also offer direct care are concierge clinics and cash-only clinics. Remember to look for a doctor that fits your budget before setting an appointment.
4. Hospital Emergency Rooms
This facility is important if you have needed immediate medical treatments. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities that provide emergency medical providers can’t refuse to treat you even though you are uninsured. When you find yourself in this situation, let the staff know that you’re not covered by any insurance as they may allow you to set repayment terms with their billing department or help you in applying for emergency insurance.
This is the most expensive way to get medical treatment on this list. However, you might still want to go to one if it’s a true emergency despite the possible hefty sum. In non-emergency situations, you can go to another type of facility.
5. Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers are the best healthcare facility you should go to if you have immediate medical needs or emergencies. But unlike emergency rooms, they accept direct payments. Going to these facilities might also be more affordable than going to the hospital if they could address your medical issues.
They are also like a walk-in clinic, but they can deal with more serious medical issues like sprains, broken bones, and wounds that need stitches.
How Much Does A Doctor’s Appointment Cost If You’re Uninsured
If you are uninsured, it’s unfortunate to spend a lot of money to seek medical attention. But the cost varies for each person as it can depend on your medical issues, the healthcare provider you’re seeing, and your location. Although the average cost of a doctor’s visit is around USD$146, this figure can increase significantly if you need more tests or prescriptions.
Expect to pay more if you need to visit the emergency room. Also, you could be charged more based on your medical needs when other billable items like X-rays, blood tests, and ambulance rides are included. This is why a lot of people hesitate to visit the hospital as it can result in massive ‘bill shock’ after you receive your treatment.
Your final bill would also depend on where you decide to seek treatment. Some clinics could give discounts or charge based on your income. Thus, you could save more money if you go to community clinics instead of direct care providers if you don’t need immediate care. Also, urgent care clinics offer more affordable rates compared to the usual medical bills you’ll get when you go directly to the emergency room.
Before booking an appointment, you should look around and compare the rates of different facilities.
How To Save Money When You Don’t Have A Health Insurance
You can follow these steps to spend less on your medical treatment:
- Tell them you’re uninsured: You can find out discounts and generous payment plans if you mention that you don’t have an insurance plan.
- Look for a health facility that fits your budget: The rates for medical services can vary because of your location. So, look for one that offers free services of sliding scale payment arrangements.
- Go for a payment plan: Some healthcare facilities will allow you to pay over several months to reduce upfront costs you need to cover.
- Double-check your medical bills: Everyone can commit mistakes, so make sure they charge you the right amount. You could even make your bill lower, so call them and ask.
- Ask for drug samples or generics: By doing this, you can significantly reduce how much you’ll spend on your medication.
- See if you’re eligible for cheaper insurance: This depends on your income, the size of your household, and where you live. So, ask if you’re qualified as this could make your bills lower.
How To Get Medical Treatment If You Have Health Insurance
Health insurance is important, but it’s often not easy to understand. You may also need to do a few things to make sure that your health care bills are covered by your insurance. There are also a lot of words that you need to keep in mind.
What Is Insurance
Having health insurance helps cover you from the usual medical issues to serious illnesses or injuries. You can also use it to get regular doctor’s visits. Also, it includes several preventive services to maintain your health.
Health insurance providers charge you a monthly bill more commonly known as a premium to pay for their services. You might also need to pay a certain percentage of your medical bills every time you receive treatment.
Using Your Insurance Policy
Every insurance company has different rules concerning how you can use their health care benefits. So, you could take a look at the offered benefits and limitations before you sign up for one, especially if it requires you to receive medical services from specific hospitals and doctors.
Usually, you can use your policy by giving your insurance information to your doctor or the hospital staff. They will be the ones who will bill your insurance company for the medical treatments you’ve received.
What to Do If Someone Is Sick
If you or someone in your family is sick but doesn’t require immediate medical care, you should call your doctor and make an appointment. If they can’t fit you into their schedule, you can still go to an urgent care center even though you have insurance. But make sure to call your insurance company first to see if they will pay for your medical bills in those facilities.
Your insurance policy may also cover the services provided by retail-based clinics such as large stores that have pharmacies. But these are usually staffed by nurses that could only treat simple medical problems and injuries.
If you need to be vaccinated against the flu or be tested for strep throat but you can’t book an appointment with your doctor, in-store clinics can provide it for you. But you need to call your insurance company first before you receive treatment from these clinics to see if they’ll cover these expenses.
For life-threatening medical emergencies, you need to go to the emergency to get treated regardless of what insurance you have. But it could cost more than going to a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic. So, you should call your insurance company before going to the emergency room.
Getting Preventive Care
Most health plans are obliged to cover preventive care without charging you. So, if you haven’t met your yearly deductible, you could still get preventive care services for free. These services usually include a few cancer screenings, immunizations, cholesterol screening, and counseling. You might also be required to receive this type of care if your doctor is part of your insurance network.
Availing of Specialized Treatment
Some plans require you to get a referral from your doctor if you need to see a specialist. Call your insurance company and ask them about what you should do in these cases. The specialist might also need to get your referral paperwork before you can set an appointment and come to their office, so make sure you’ve ironed things out in advance.
You need to check if the specialist belongs in your network as you might be charged with a bigger share or pay for the whole bill if they aren’t.
All health plans available on the market or those offered by small employers should cover prescriptions. It is also quite common for policies offered by large employers. So, you need to check with your insurance company to inquire if you need to get your medicines through a pharmacy in their network.
You should also pick a pharmacy that’s close to where you live and mention it to your doctor or hospital so that they know its name and contact number. This will make it easier for your medical team to know about the prescription you need. If you fail to mention it but you need to take your prescription as soon as possible, your doctor might give you a written prescription that you can take to get them.
How to Get Home Health Care Services?
Another way for you to get medical treatment is through home health care services. This is important for seniors who need to receive care in the comfort of their homes. If you belong to this age group, you can consider this type of care and consult your doctor if you are eligible.
Home health care covers a wide variety of medical services that you can receive at home. They are also usually less expensive, offer more convenience, and could be as good as going to the hospital.
These are some of the services you can get:
- Wound care for surgical wounds and pressure sores
- Patient and caregiver education
- Nutrition or intravenous therapy
- Monitoring for serious medical problems
But this service is only available for people who are insured, so you might want to register for a plan before availing this service.
Everything becomes harder when you or someone in your family is sick. So, if you aren’t covered by insurance, you should seek the care provided by the facilities listed above as it can significantly reduce your medical bills. If you’re eligible, you should also get a health insurance plan to make health care more attainable and keep your family healthy.