7 Resources for People Who Need to See a Doctor But Can’t Afford It

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Health care costs
Jen Smith treats Gerard Waters at St. Pete Community Acupuncture on April 14, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

As U.S. citizens wait to find out how the GOP health care proposal could impact our wallets, health care costs are keeping a lot of us awake at night.

A new study from Bankrate reports that 25% of Americans say they or someone in their household has chosen not to seek medical care because of how much it costs.

Mandy Pullen of Waltham, Massachusetts told researchers her insurance deductible is so high that it’s not worth seeing a doctor when the need arises. “I just tough it out,” she said.

I get it. I want to cry every time my deductible resets itself at the beginning of the year. While my out-of-pocket expenses aren’t astronomical, I can certainly do without the flood of medical bills I have to pay until it kicks in.

On the other hand, I realize that I’m fortunate to even have health insurance to begin with.

The Centers for Disease Control puts the number of uninsured Americans under age 65 at 28.4 million. That’s over 10% of the entire U.S. population!

7 Resources for People Who Can’t Afford Health Care Costs

If you’re among the people in this country who are uninsured, underinsured or simply struggling with the high cost of medical bills, here are seven resources that may help.

  1. Several organizations provide free or low-cost preventative screening services to test women for cervical cancer and breast cancer.
  2. Planned Parenthood offers a number of reduced-cost health services, including routine checkups, STD testing and treatment, birth control and some types of cancer screening. Sexual health services are also available for teen and adult women and men.
  3. If you need surgery, it pays to shop around in your area to see if it’s cheaper in the next town or state over.
  4. Several local and regional organizations provide free or reduced-fee dental care. Though mainly available to children, some groups also offer subsidized dental and orthodontic care for adults.
  5. Free or low-cost mental health services can be difficult to find but there are a few options you can explore.
  6. If you’re struggling with the cost of expensive prescriptions, ask your doctor to take a look at your insurance company’s drug formulary to see if there’s an alternative medication you can take.
  7. Acupuncture may be an option to help treat chronic pain, headaches and other ailments — and it’s a lot less expensive than regular visits to your doctor.

The cost of ongoing medical treatment can add up quickly, but many of us can’t even afford one surprise medical bill of $100.

There are a few strategies to save money on medical bills, but they won’t always knock the amount you owe down to a manageable size.

In fact, even having insurance isn’t a guarantee you won’t be crushed by medical bills.

Like the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. In this case, that means planning ahead and feathering your nest egg with some extra money to pay off medical bills as they arise.

Of course, it’s not easy to save money — especially when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.

One approach that works for people is to start setting aside money a little bit at a time. If you add one new strategy to your savings plan each month, you could end up with $5,000 or more in a year’s time.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She puts away a little bit of money every month and is always amazed at how fast it adds up.