- Doctor's visits and medical bills can be expensive, especially if you do not have insurance or if your insurance has high deductibles. Receiving a bill with an out-of-pocket cost that does not fit your budget can be scary, but you have several options when tackling bills you can’t afford.
- Regardless of your ability to pay for medical bills, ignoring payment may result in your bills being referred to collection companies. Outlined in this article are several of your rights when facing such circumstances.
- Mira may be a good fit for you if you cannot afford a doctor's visit. For just $45 a month, Mira’s health benefits can help you access more affordable and transparent preventative and urgent care.
The price of your doctor’s visit depends on several factors
When seeking treatment from a doctor, your total out-of-pocket cost will depend on several factors listed below.
- Insurance Status
- Type of Insurance
- Reason for Visit (e.g. Injury, Illness, Annual Physical)
- Diagnostic Tests
- Additional Tests and Lab Work
- Prescription Medication / Drugs
- Office Visit + Administrative Fees
Coupled with administrative fees as well as other diagnostic tests, seeking medical treatment from a doctor is likely more than you expect, so it is important to know your options when navigating bills with costs you cannot afford.
What should I do if I can't afford a doctor's visit? You have several options
Below are several options you can consider if you can't afford a doctor's visit:
Government Benefits and Charitable Foundations
You may be qualified for Medicare, Medicaid, and/or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. These programs can help afford a doctor's visit with little to no co-pays. You can see if you qualify here.
State health insurance assistance programs also exist to help you pay for otherwise unaffordable doctor visit bills. You can find more information here.
If you do not qualify for the aforementioned programs, there are also several charitable programs that can assist you with your medical bills. Here are several options you may qualify for.
Community health centers or find a free clinic near you
If you can't afford a doctor's visit, you may want to find community health centers in your area.
Community health centers deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary health care services. They oftentimes integrate access to pharmacy, mental health, substance use disorder, and oral health services in areas where economic, geographic, or cultural barriers limit access to affordable health care services.
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Health centers also deliver care to the Nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families, including people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, residents of public housing, and the Nation’s veterans.
The Health Resources and Services Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. Look for a health center near you.
Mira is among the best options to access affordable healthcare. For $45 per month or just $300 annually, you get access to Mira’s benefits, including same-day lab tests, COVID-19 testing, urgent care visits, and much more.
Please note that the information in this article is meant to equip you with the information to decide for yourself whether or not to seek medical treatment for a sprained ankle.
Mira’s Research Team does not consist of medical professionals, and we merely wish to highlight your options when navigating sprained ankle injuries. If you have specific questions regarding your medical situation, you should contact a healthcare provider.
I have insurance but I can't afford to use it
If you have insurance but still can't afford medical care, you can try the following options:
- Patient Services: This provides assistance with premiums and co-payments
- The HealthWell Foundation: A foundation that provides assistance in paying co-payments for medical treatments.
- Co-Pay Relief: Cost assistance with co-payments.
- Medicare Extra Help/ How to Escape Medicare Fees: Cost assistance for people on Medicare
- Medicaid: If you have Medicaid plus other insurance, Medicaid will pay co-pays
- Free clinics: Even if you have insurance, you may be eligible for assistance
I've received a surprise medical bill, what should I do?
Receiving a bill that exists outside of your budget can be scary, but there are a few important points to keep in mind when navigating this process. First, it is imperative that you do not ignore the bill.
Even if you cannot afford a bill, failure to pay a bill may result in long-standing effects on your credit score and may introduce the involvement of debt collectors.
Second, you should know that you have options. While high medical bills are stressful, they cannot often be negotiated, making them more manageable and affordable.
Follow these steps if you received a surprise medical bill
Outlined below are several options that may help you when navigating bills you cannot afford:
- Before receiving care, ask what charges you can expect to see on your bill. Doing so will not only help you avoid any surprises but can also help you choose the exact care that you want or deem necessary.
- Ask if there are cheaper alternatives to the care that you will be receiving.
- After receiving a bill, ensure that all prices are correct. You should review all services, tests, medications on the bill and confirm that you actually received them. Clerical errors occur more often than not, and a surprise medical fee may arise because of mistakes on the providers’ end.
- Negotiate how you will pay. You do not have to pay the entire bill at once. Oftentimes providers are willing to set up a regular payment plan. Although this bill may contain a late fee, most providers do not charge interest on your bill. For many, this may be a better alternative to taking out a loan or opening a credit card.
- Negotiate the price you will pay. You can look up the price for many procedures via the Healthcare Bluebook. It’s possible that you may have been overcharged for a procedure or medication, in which case you may be able to negotiate the cost with your provider.
- Government programs and charitable foundations also exist to help you with expensive bills. We highlight these options in the section below.