With the cost of healthcare higher than ever, we often hear questions like, “how do I find a free clinic near me?”
For those living without health insurance, or who have very high deductible health insurance, it is often necessary to look for creative ways to meet our healthcare needs and keep costs down.
This guide offers a few tips for finding free and very low cost clinics to meet your healthcare needs. We also answer some other common questions about free health clinics.
How do I search for free clinics near me?
A great place to start on your search for free healthcare resources are these databases that house information about free healthcare clinics across the United States. The three databases below are great sources of information, and all you have to do is enter your zip code to see a listing of health clinics in your area.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a comprehensive database where you can find free health clinics in your area.
- The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is an organization that unites 1,400 free and charitable clinics across the U.S. They also offer a search function by zip code.
- FindCare.org is a not-for-profit online database that is regularly maintained with up-to-date information.
Can I find free clinics near me by Google searching?
Whenever I’m asked, “how do I find a free clinic near me?” my first question is always, “what services do you need?”
When looking for a free health clinic, Google is definitely your friend! Searches for “free clinics near me” will return search results for clinics in your area, but not every free clinic offers the same services.
Before you search, think about what your needs are. You will have more success in finding what you need if you search for more specific terms like “free clinic near me women’s health”, “free clinics near me mental health”, “free clinic near me sexual health”, or “free clinic near me primary care”.
What are other ways to find free healthcare?
If you live in a city, suburb, or other heavily populated area, it might be easy to find a free health clinic using one of the databases listed in the section above. In rural areas, it will likely be more difficult to find a clinic near you. However, there are other ways to find some types of care for free or low cost. Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps holds free pop-up clinics in remote areas where it is difficult to access medical care. You can search their free pop-up clinic schedule to find out if they plan to hold a pop-up clinic near you.
Another way to get free or low-cost healthcare is to visit a Planned Parenthood, which has over 600 locations across the United States. In addition to family planning services, Planned Parenthood offers STI/STD testing for both men and women, as well as general gynecology services. Something that is not widely known: many locations offer general health services (primary care) for both men and women as well. Call to find a location near you at 1800-230-PLAN (1800-230-7526).
If you are a community college or university student, find out if you are entitled to free healthcare on campus. It is even possible that you have paid a fee for health services without realizing it, or that it was covered by financial aid or scholarship funds.
As a last resort, emergency rooms are required by law to provide care to everyone, free of charge. Keep in mind that this isn’t a sustainable way to get regular healthcare, but if you are injured or having a medical emergency, the ER must provide at least enough care to stabilize you.
Can I visit a free clinic if I don’t have health insurance?
Yes. Most free clinics exist specifically for people who are uninsured or underinsured. That said, many free clinics also accept health insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, to help cover part of the cost of your care.
Are free clinics really free?
It depends. Most clinics accept health insurance from those who have it, and charge for services on a sliding scale for those who don’t. How much the clinic charges is usually based on your income. If you have a very low income, it is likely that your care will be completely free. If you have a slightly higher income, you might be asked to pay a small fee to help cover the cost of your care.
What conditions would a free clinic near me treat?
Free clinics treat a wide variety of conditions, and some specialize in specific types of healthcare like gynecology or sexual health. You should be able to obtain primary and preventative care at free health clinics. That includes things like blood pressure screenings, routine blood tests, and consultation with a physician.
You may be surprised to find that free clinics often offer mental health and behavioral health, dental, and vision services.
If you are experiencing an emergency medical issue (chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe pain, etc.), or a serious injury like a broken bone or excessive bleeding, you should visit an emergency room. Emergency rooms are required by law to treat you regardless of your ability to pay.
Can I get free medication at free clinics near me?
Many free clinics offer free or low cost medication, or can help you find a pharmacy that offers low-cost medications. It is less likely that the free health clinic near you will be able to prescribe medications that are classified by the government as “controlled substances”. That includes common medications like Xanax, Adderall, Ambien, narcotic painkillers, and others.
Are urgent care/walk-in clinics free?
Urgent care and walk-in clinics like CityMD, CrimsonCare, and Healthcare Express are not typically free. They almost always accept insurance, and most take Medicaid and Medicare.
While the cost of healthcare continues to climb, there are still some options out there if you need to access free healthcare.