Millions of people in the U.S. live without health insurance, a circumstance that can cause people to weigh the need to see a doctor against the cost. Unfortunately, many people will put off or do without medical care because they can’t afford it, a decision that could jeopardize their health.
While the Affordable Care Act has boosted the number of Americans with insurance, millions remain uninsured. In 2018, 27.5 million people – more than 8% of the U.S. population – were uninsured, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Private health insurance covered 67% of Americans. Those without health coverage face the dilemma: Where can I go for medical care without insurance?
The Coverage Gap
In addition to the people who are uninsured, millions are underinsured, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund. Among people with health insurance, 29% were underinsured in 2018, compared to 23% in 2014, according to the fund’s Biennial Health Insurance Survey: “People who are ‘underinsured’ have high health plan deductibles and out-of-pocket medical expenses relative to their income and are more likely to struggle paying medical bills or to skip care because of cost.”
The survey found that 41% of underinsured adults reported they delayed needed medical care because of cost. By contrast, 23% of people with adequate insurance coverage said they delayed such treatment. Also, 47% of underinsured adults reported medical bill and debt problems.
Tips for Finding Affordable Medical Care
If you’re uninsured or underinsured, here are eight strategies for finding affordable medical care:
1. Research your eligibility for insurance.
Depending on your situation, you might be eligible to buy individual health insurance coverage from the ACA marketplace or in the individual market, or you might qualify for Medicaid, Medicare or the Children’s Health Insurance Program for your kids, says Kim