The coronavirus pandemic has presented lots of challenges for lots of people.
Some people have lost their jobs as part of the economic downturn, meaning they have also lost their health insurance. Others have jobs that don’t offer health insurance benefits in the first place.
So what are people without insurance to do about health care in the midst of a pandemic?
Our panel of experts offered some advice during our Ask 2 Live conversation Thursday night.
Here are some of their tips to finding affordable health care in the Houston area.
- Seek out a clinic or practice that has a sliding-fee scale if you’re unemployed and don’t have insurance. Some of these clinics have an all-seen policy.
- If you’ve become homeless many of these clinics and practices will see you even if you don’t have a home address.
- Hospitals aren’t allowed to turn people away. Communication is key between patients, doctors and hospitals.
- Try to enroll children in Medicaid if you’ve become unemployed. There are lots of clinics that will help you get your children enrolled.
- Having insurance is not always the cheapest way to get health care. Patients should try to negotiate with the bigger hospital systems. Specialists are where costs can really rack up and patients should try negotiating those costs.
- Urgent care clinics are also a lower-cost option over hospitals for some major things such as broken bones.
- Some of the low-cost clinics do have ancillary services such as dental, vision, behavioral health and ob/gyn.
- Virtual appointments are a great way to cut down on health care costs.
- Look for clinics and practices that offer up-front pricing so that you know what it will cost you if you visit.
Here are some of the resources that were mentioned during this Ask 2 Live discussion.
- Texas Association of Community Health Centers
- Sidecar Health
- Harris Health System (Harris County residents)
- Access Health (Fort Bend County residents)
KPRC 2 was joined by experts from Express Family Clinic, HOPE Clinic, Legacy Community Health, University of Houston College of Medicine and Neurodiversity Foundation. Here is who participated in this Ask 2 Live.
- Dr. Andrea Caracostis - Chief Executive Officer, HOPE Clinic
- Dr. Tamisha Jones - Medical Director of Pediatrics, Legacy Community Health
- Dr. Brian Reed - Family physician and Chair of the Clinical Sciences Department, University of Houston College of Medicine
- Melissa Herpel - Family Nurse Practitioner, Express Family Clinic
- Shawn Fry - Hospital Consultant, Founder and Chief Science Officer, Neurodiversity Foundation