Access to quality healthcare is crucial to both our well-being and that of our loved ones. Nobody wants to experience the stress and uncertainty of a sick child or family member in need of medical attention. Unfortunately, sometimes healthcare can be difficult to access due to costs or distance. SABEResPODER has put together a list of healthcare solutions and resources for all types of medical treatments and income levels.
There are a number of ways to receive quality healthcare. If you don't have health insurance or if your income is limited, check out this guide to finding clinics closest to you and start prioritizing your health!
What Services Do Free or Low-Cost Clinics Provide?
Free clinics are useful for treating minor problems and in some cases, major emergencies. At low-cost clinics, you can find all kinds of specialists, regardless of whether or not you’re insured. Some primary services that free and low-cost clinics usually provide are:
- Medical consults with specialists in:
- Emergency care
- Ophthalmologic checkups
- Prenatal care
- Dental services
- Vaccines for children
How Do I Find the Nearest Clinic?
The first step in accessing free or low-cost healthcare is figuring out where the nearest center is. The fastest way to find clinics near you is through Find a Health Center. Just type in your location in the "Enter a location" search bar and click on the magnifying glass icon. The site will provide you with a detailed listing of the clinics available to you.
Types of Free or Low-Cost Clinics near Me
Once you access the list of nearest centers, you’ll have to choose the best clinic for the kind of treatment you need. The most common types of health centers you can find are:
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are healthcare facilities that receive funding from donations, grants, and other government organizations. FQHCs have become an alternative to high-cost private facilities that sometimes require insurance.
FQHC fees are determined by an income-based sliding scale. Some are even free, or are very low-cost. However, there might be additional small service fees to take into account. There are different classifications within FQHCs, including:
Community Health Centers
Community health centers tend to be the most popular for immediate medical attention. They also provide vaccination services, ophthalmologic check-ups, medical and dental exams, and general health services.
This type of health center is designed for people that can’t access or sign up for traditional healthcare systems, providing them with a quick and reliable option to ensure their wellbeing. There are currently more than 5,000 community health centers throughout the United States that offer low-cost or free medical care.
Keep in mind: To visit these centers, all you need to do is make an appointment. In case of an emergency, go directly for treatment.
Health centers for immigrants
These centers provide care and treatment for undocumented people. Immigration status is NOT taken into account when providing medical care. This type of center typically has the capacity to provide dental, prenatal, and ophthalmological services, as well as primary care.
Health Centers for Public Housing Residents
These centers are directly connected to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Public Housing program. HUD works to ensure that people living in public housing have access to quality healthcare. Depending on the size of the housing complex, these centers might be part of the building itself or located nearby in an easily accessible area. There are over 100 centers in the United States that provide care to people that live in public housing.
Homeless shelter clinics
These clinics play an important role by providing care to vulnerable populations. Their services focus on malnutrition, psychological, and psychiatric care, as well as providing comprehensive services that address primary health needs.
Shelter clinics are funded by charity and donations. To find hours of operation and where these centers are located, you can use the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) search tool. Just type in your city and state and adjust the search radius near you, then click the magnifying glass icon. The site will provide a detailed listing of available clinics nearby.
County and Regional Health Departments
These state and county public health institutions guarantee medical care for their communities. At these types of centers you will be able to access:
- Blood tests
- COVID-19 screenings
- Primary medical consultations
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis and treatment
- Care for children and adolescents
For location information, hours of operation, and details on services offered, check the online directory on the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) website. Log on and select your desired state, and an interactive map will show you what options are available.
Mobile clinics provide healthcare to people in remote or rural areas. These clinics are usually vans or vehicles that are equipped to perform a variety of services ranging from dentistry to complete medical check-ups.
If you’re looking for a mobile clinic, check this operating locations map to see their hours and what services they offer. To find available clinics, select the state where you want to receive medical care and browse the interactive map to see the options closest to you.
Telemedicine refers to all healthcare consultations that are conducted virtually. This allows prospective patients to obtain answers to medical questions and other services online, no matter where they’re located. This system became popular at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and gave rise to online medical resources that are easily accessible from home.Telemedicine gives millions of people access to medical resources. It’s an easy, fast, and low-cost alternative to traditional healthcare consults. Through PODERsalud, for example, you can take a medical appointment from the comfort of your own home. PODERsalud offers full telemedicine services so you can access medical attention from your phone, tablet, or computer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are These Clinics Really Free of Charge?
We know that medical treatment in the U.S. can be expensive, so having a reliable list of credible centers and clinics is necessary to know your options in an informed way.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer, since many of the Federally Qualified Health Center fees are established on a sliding scale. In other words, they adjust to criteria such as your income and financial circumstances to determine how much you’ll owe. If you don’t have the means to pay, however, you can still go to any center that is directly subsidized by the government.
What if I Have an Emergency and Am Uninsured?
Having a medical emergency while uninsured is always a scary prospect. Luckily, there are options available! If you don’t have insurance, consider the following alternatives:
- Community clinics
- Emergency care
- Immigrant health centers
How Many Free Clinics Are in the United States?
As of 2022, there are about 1,200 free clinics in the United States that treat various health-related problems. Likewise, there are about 1,300 community health service centers, which might not be entirely free, but often use a sliding scale based on what you can afford.
Keep in mind: In 2020, over two million people received free medical care daily at clinics located throughout the United States. The government's plan is to expand these centers in order to increase access to healthcare.
Can Free or Low-Cost Health Clinics Write Prescriptions?
Most medications in the United States require a prescription issued directly by a physician licensed for that purpose. Free and community health clinics can fill these prescriptions as long as they are written by a registered healthcare professional.
Access to Quality Health Care For You and Your Family!Everyone deserves access to quality healthcare. Neither lack of resources nor immigration status should prevent you or your family from receiving proper medical treatment. There are many avenues available to access the services you need and maintain your well-being.
You can also take advantage of the PODERsalud membership, created by SABEResPODER, which gives you access to telemedicine when and where you need it, discounts from 10% to 80% on medications, and 15% to 50% on dental care, and much, much more!