Medical costs in the US are high. One unexpected medical situation can put most families in financial peril. This is especially true if you don’t have medical insurance. But there are ways to save money on medical expenses if you don’t have insurance.
How to save money when seeing a doctor without insurance
Community Health Centers
You can get discounted primary care at community healthcare centers. You will pay on a sliding scale based on your income. If you fall in the low-income bracket, you may qualify for a free doctor visit. Community healthcare centers provide primary care, vaccination, and even dental cleaning. You can use the HRSA website to find a healthcare center near you.
Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers can handle non-life-threatening conditions and can be a substitute for an emergency room visit. There are more than 10,000 urgent care centers in the US. So you may be able to find one near you. They offer extended hours which can be helpful if you need to see a doctor after hours.
Urgent care centers employ physicians, physician assistants, and nurses. They do routine exams such as physicals. Cost varies between $50 and $200 based on the services. Urgent care centers take both insured and uninsured patients.
Virtual doctor visits became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to be popular because it saves time. With telehealth providers, you have the option to pay out of pocket if you don’t have insurance. Online doctors can help you with minor health issues and prescriptions but they can’t handle emergencies.
Pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS have walk-in clinics where you can see a doctor or nurse practitioner. Even grocery stores have walk-in clinics in the pharmacy section. At these clinics, you can get vaccinations, do wellness visits, and several everyday treatments.
Emergency rooms are required by law to see all patients, whether they have insurance or not. The cost to visit an emergency room is high – the average cost is around $200 for a non-emergency visit.
Medicare or Medicaid
If you are over 65 or if your income is low, you can qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. You can check your eligibility at healthcare.gov.
Frequently asked questions
What is the cheapest way to see a doctor if you don’t have insurance?
Your cheapest option might be a community health center. You will pay for services based on your income. Another option is a telehealth provider like Teladoc or MDLive.
How much does it cost to see a doctor without insurance?
The cost varies depending on where you see the doctor. Community health centers are cheaper than emergency visits. In general, it costs around $185 to see a primary care provider and $350 to see a specialist.
Can medical providers refuse treatment?
It’s illegal and unethical for a medical facility to deny treatment to any patient in an emergency. But you can be denied treatment for non-emergency situations. A community health center may be more accommodating in a non-emergency situation than a private institution.
Saving money when you are uninsured
Call your local doctor’s offices, community health care centers, and walk-in clinics to find out about their services and pricing. Costs vary widely, so shopping around is key to saving money.
Avoid ERs for non-life-threatening situations
ERs are expensive. Unless the situation is life-threatening or pressing, you should visit an urgent care center, which is a cheaper alternative. You will also be able to see a doctor quickly at an urgent care center or an ER.
Ask if the provider has payment plans
Many medical providers offer payment plans to ease the burden on their patients. Read the payment plan to ensure that you are not paying a high-interest rate.
You can see a doctor cheaply and quickly through telehealth providers. The cost to see a doctor online is cheaper compared to seeing them at a clinic.
There are several low-cost ways to see a doctor. Whether you visit a community center, an urgent care clinic, or a doctor’s office, shop around for prices. Prices for medical services vary widely. By shopping around, you may be able to save a lot of money. Consider seeing a doctor online for everyday issues. Online appointments are cheap and easy to get.