Health insurance can be cost-prohibitive, if you're on a low income. With premiums stretching into thousands of dollars a month, it may seem like an impossible dream to be able to get even an annual physical when you are on a low income. However, there are many options available to get free healthcare if you are a low-income adult.
Medicaid is a federally funded healthcare program that covers low-income adults and children. You must meet certain requirements to apply for the healthcare, including limits on the amount of cash and assets you own. Each state differs according to income guidelines but, in general, you must be close to the poverty line to be eligible for Medicaid. In addition, if you are an adult without children, you generally won't be eligible for Medicaid unless you are disabled or pregnant.
County Health Departments
County health departments provide a range of preventative care services but do not usually provide for hospitalization or surgery. Many county health departments have free or reduced healthcare clinics. Some departments offer clinic cards, which entitle you to receive free or reduced care at participating clinics. Other health departments may offer free clinics for sexually transmitted diseases. In order to qualify for services you must usually meet income requirements and fill out an application.
Check Your Local City
Your local city may contract with a local hospital to provide indigent care. Indigent means that you can't afford to pay for your care. These contracts provide care for the uninsured and sometimes provide a comprehensive realm of services from preventative care to surgery. For example, the City of Jacksonville, Florida has a multimillion dollar contract with Shands Jacksonville to provide care for low-income patients.
There may be groups or organizations in your area that offer free clinics or free, specific services like free mammograms and pap smears. Finding these occasional services can save you a bundle of money but they may be hard to locate. The United Way runs a hot line that you can call: dial 211. They will put you in touch with your local United Way who keeps a list of services like free healthcare services and clinics.