Eligibility for free and low-cost healthcare clinics varies according to location. A list of resources:
- U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, search box for federally funded healthcare centers
- National Association of Free Clinics, state and regional associations of clinics
- United for Sight, nationwide list of community clinics for the underinsured and uninsured
- Volunteers in Medicine, list of health clinics allied with this organization
The U.S. government's healthcare programs include:
- Medicaid. This state-administered program covers only those low-income people who fit certain eligibility groups. Factors governing eligibility include income, assets, age and disability.<.li>
- Medicare, 800-633-4227. This health insurance program covers people age 65 and older, younger people who have certain disabilities, and anyone with end-stage renal disease (chronic kidney failure). Part A is hospital insurance. Part B helps cover doctors, outpatient care and home health. Part D helps cover prescription drugs.
- Social Security Disability, 800-772-1213. This program aids disabled people who meet eligibility requirements.
- State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). "Families that do not currently have health insurance are likely to be eligible, even if you are working," according to this federal/state partnership. Eligibility rules vary by state. Generally it covers uninsured children under age 19 whose families earn up to $36,200 a year for a family of four. For little or no cost, this insurance covers doctor visits, immunizations, hospitalizations, emergency room visits and some dental care.
- VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides enrolled military veterans with certain healthcare benefits (877-222-8387) and other benefits (800-827-1000).
Note that there also many state assistance programs. For example, RxHelpForCalifornians helps qualified low-income California residents get discount prescription drugs. New York's programs include Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) and Family Health Plus, which helps young and middle-aged adults who don't qualify for Medicare.
Local public health departments also may have clinics that offer some limited medications and contraceptive medications and devices for free or on a sliding-fee scale for eligible individuals.
Reviewed by Timothy Yarboro, M.D.