Many people struggle to pay for health care and prescriptions. If you have difficulty affording needed services and medications, there are many available resources that can provide significant relief. Here are a few of the most common resources available.
Medicare is a health insurance program for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure). Find out if you are eligible by visiting www.medicare.gov.
Many uninsured people not eligible for Medicare can obtain medical coverage through state-administered Medicaid programs. To learn more about Medicaid, click here.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives some individuals who lose their health benefits the ability to continue receiving benefits for a limited period of time. You can become eligible due to job loss, reduced hours at work, death, divorce and other events. You can find out more about COBRA here.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) helps fund over 7,000 community health centers serving millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans. Patients pay based on what they can afford for services such as routine checkups, maternity care, immunizations, prescription drugs, and dental, mental health and substance abuse care. To learn more about this program and find the closest HHS-supported center, visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov.
Many university teaching hospitals and dental schools operate clinics on a sliding payment scale, so it is often worthwhile to check with the institutions near you about discounted services.
Many pharmacies, clinics and health organizations, such the National Kidney Foundation and the American Academy of Dermatology, provide free screenings for illnesses such as kidney disease, skin cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Most pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs (PAPs), through which uninsured patients with limited incomes can access drugs they couldn't otherwise afford. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or clinic how to proceed, or visit Partnership for Prescription Assistance. An excellent resource for anyone looking for more information about health care resources in the U.S. is www.healthcare.gov.