How To See a Doctor Without Insurance
In 2021, 27.5 million people under the age of 65 were uninsured. Most uninsured people cite the cost of health insurance as the reason they are not insured. Over 70% of uninsured households (those under age 65) have at least one full-time worker in the household. Unfortunately, not having health insurance has financial and health implications. People without health insurance have limited access to healthcare, and as a result, they frequently go without needed medical care.
If you do not have health insurance, there are options. Here are some tips when looking for a doctor without insurance.
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Research and Ask Questions
Just as the costs for any other service vary, the cost of doctor visits and other healthcare services vary significantly, even in the same geographic location. The difference is even greater in high-cost-of-living areas that must pass the overhead cost to their patients.
For a routine physical examination, booking a consultation with a family physician is expected to cost between $100 and $250. Walk-in store clinics typically offer these visits at a lower cost, but they are not as comprehensive. Mayo Clinic offers an estimator prospective patients can use to determine the cost of an office visit or a procedure, with and without insurance. For example, if you needed an in-depth evaluation with a provider and were an established patient, your total estimated charges for a 40-minute visit would be $525. Mayo Clinic offers a $131 deduction for US uninsured, bringing the charges to $394.
Telemedicine has lowered the cost of care, largely because of a decrease in overhead costs. Telehealth visits cost an average of $40.00 to $50.00 per visit. In comparison, a similar in-person visit would cost $136 to $176. The cost of telehealth visits varies based on the provider, the specific services you need, and whether you have insurance coverage.
Find a Provider That Offers Discounts
Some providers offer sliding-scale payment options, and others offer a discount for patients who pay cash for their visits. Shop around. Use online calculators if they are available. Otherwise, call multiple doctors’ offices and get the price for a routine visit.
Office visits are priced based on whether the patient is new or established and the length and detail of the visit. Choose a visit type, such as a 30-minute visit for a new or established patient, CPT 99242, and ask several medical providers how much they charge for this level of visit. Use this information for budgeting and to determine your most cost-effective option.
After you determine your best option in terms of reputation and cost, negotiate with your healthcare provider to see if there are cash-payment discounts or no-insurance deductions, or other discounts available.
Prescriptions are an aspect of healthcare where deductions are available. When your doctor writes a prescription, do a quick web search on Singlecare, GoodRx, or another site to determine the cost of the medication. If it is pricey, ask your doctor if there are other options.
Once you have a prescription, return to these sites that supply prescription discount cards. Enter your prescription name, dosage, and strength. GoodRx and similar sites will provide the medication cost at your local pharmacies using their discount cards. Frequently, these prices are lower than the co-pay people with insurance will pay. Also, ask your doctor if any drug samples are available.
Research the costs of lab and imaging tests as well. These are commodities. The procedure is the same anywhere you choose to have the test. Call around to determine your most cost-effective option. Check to price lab and imaging tests using the Healthcare Bluebook.
Exploring Different Options
Don’t forget about telehealth as an option. Check the prices for telehealth providers and compare them to in-person providers. There are many benefits to seeing an online doctor and getting an online diagnosis. Convenience, privacy, and lower cost are just a few.
Take Advantage of Online Platforms
You may be wondering how you can find a telehealth doctor. Online platforms like Telegra MD make it easy. They provide a secure and accessible platform where you can access doctors from many specialties, all from the same login.
Payment Options for Medical Care Without Insurance
Planning ahead is your best strategy when seeking medical care without insurance. Try to save money consistently when you are healthy and put it in a tax-advantaged account to pay for medical care expenses when they develop.
Pay Out of Pocket
Paying out-of-pocket is always an option. To keep your costs at a minimum, shop around. Urgent care is more cost-effective than an emergency room, assuming you do not need emergency care. A retail walk-in or telehealth clinic will probably be less expensive than an in-person visit.
Ask about payment plans. Some providers offer cash discounts and no or low-interest payment plans. Mention that you are uninsured and ask if any discounts are available.
Look for patient assistance programs. These programs are available through some clinics, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. To qualify, you will need to complete an application that shows financial need. If you qualify, you may be eligible to receive discounted or even no-cost healthcare.
Try community health centers and local free clinics. These centers may offer low-cost or free medical care to people who qualify. Check with a local medical school or hospital to see if they offer free screenings. Many clinics offer skin cancer screenings and check blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Try searching for a local clinic in your area using freeclinics.com.
Making the Most of Your Visit
To ensure you get the most value possible from your medical consultation, prepare in advance. Check the price of the visit and payment options before scheduling.
Have an Agenda
Know the length of your scheduled appointment and make an agenda. Put your most important questions and concerns first, followed by those that could be deferred to another visit if you run out of time.
Research your condition online before your appointment and develop a list of questions. Learn how the condition is diagnosed and any possible treatment options. This gives you time to prepare questions for your visit and to consider potential treatment options in advance.
If you need medical care and do not have insurance, the cost can seem prohibitive. Also, consider the cost of not seeking needed medical care. When healthcare problems are identified and treated earlier, the overall long-term cost is frequently much less than if treatment is delayed.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.