How to Get Affordable Health Care Without Insurance
Unless you’ve got a sweet gig like insert fortunate individual here> and you get affordable health care through your job, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is likely not gonna help you much. Unless, of course, you consider “help” to mean insert unfortunate individual here> and no longer being able to pay double or triple digit premiums for subpar care. Unless you consider “help” to mean insert unfortunate individual here> and no longer having access to coverage that won’t bankrupt you if something catastrophic happens. Unless… See what we mean? Unless you are one of those very unfortunate people who cannot find affordable healthcare without insurance. Which is why we wrote this post — so that if that describes you, then maybe it can also describe you some helpful tips for getting affordable healthcare without insurance. So buckle up, read on, and good luck!
Don’t buy insurance you don’t need.
You might be able to get a really great deal on insurance if you have a pre-existing condition. But, you’re probably not going to be able to afford it. If you buy health insurance at the same time you get a diagnosis, you’re probably going to have a really hard time finding a plan that will take you (many companies exclude people with pre-existing conditions). So, if you don’t need insurance right now, don’t go out and buy it. While you wait until you do need it. If you’re not sure you need health insurance, try to get by without it.
Shop around for price estimates.
This assumes that you have a vague idea of what you are looking for (e.g., a doctor, a procedure, etc.). If you don’t, you should start doing some research. Go to websites like HealthCare.gov and Healthcare.gov. You can see what the government plans are, what your state’s insurance exchange is offering, and how much these plans cost on average. You can also go directly to insurance company websites and find their plans that way. Be aware that you might not want the cheapest plan. You want to get a plan that covers you and has a payment plan you can afford. If you have a preexisting condition, you may not be able to get insurance. Make sure you know what your coverage needs are, what you’re looking for, and what is and is not covered.
Know your rights.
You can go to your state’s insurance exchange to get coverage regardless of preexisting conditions. You have a certain amount of time after you lose your coverage to go back to the exchanges. If you have a preexisting condition, many states have a high-risk pool you can go to get coverage. Make sure you check your state’s website or call them to find out the details. If your income is low enough, you may be eligible for Medicaid. You can find out if you qualify by filling out a form online or calling your state’s Medicaid office.
Check out flexible spending accounts.
A flexible spending account (FSA) allows you to put money away before you pay taxes on it. You can use it towards healthcare (like copays, prescription drugs, etc.). Or you can use it towards dependent care. If you have a high-deductible health plan (like most Affordable Care Act plans), then you can use it towards your deductible. Be aware that you need to contribute to these accounts throughout the year and you have to have a high-deductible plan to qualify.
Go to a free clinic.
If you have no health insurance and no money, you can go to a free clinic. There are many organizations that run these clinics — you can find a list of them here. You’ll likely have to wait a long time to get seen and you won’t get any follow-up care. But you can get services like basic lab tests, prescriptions, and other basic medical care.
Ask your doctor for samples.
Doctors often have extra supplies they’ve used up or extra drugs they’ve tried out on patients. They may be willing to give these to you. Some doctors give away samples all the time. Some give away samples once in a while. Either way, this is one of the best ways to get free medicine. Just be sure you’re not taking anything that will make you allergic to something else.
Get a job that comes with benefits. Or, if you can, start your own business.
If you have a full-time job that comes with health insurance, you don’t need to read any further. Your biggest challenge might be finding a way to pay for your COBRA when you lose your coverage. If you don’t have health insurance through your job, you can look into COBRA. This is a government-regulated program that allows people who lose health insurance to keep the health insurance they had.Or if you don’t want to go with COBRA, you can start a side hustle. You can start a blog, a shop online, do freelance work, etc. Any of these things will give you more freedom and flexibility to go to free clinics when you need to.
Affordable health care can seem impossible to obtain without insurance. But the tips we’ve outlined in this article will help you find the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Remember, health insurance is only one part of your overall health care. Make sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep to stay healthy.