If you're one of the 12.2 percent of Americans who are uninsured, finding affordable healthcare can be a serious challenge. With the typical adult physical exam running $200 to $240, according to Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts, getting even the most basic of services is tough. But there are ways to reduce the cost -- these tips will help you find the medical care you need without breaking the bank:
1. Join a Medical Discount Plan
Medical plan discount plans aren't insurance, but they do offer discounted prices on medical care. Although most focus on dental and vision, some also get you reduced rates on telemedical care--doctor visits by email or phone--as well as prescriptions, diagnostic tests, and chiropractic. Some even help you negotiate the out-of-pocket portion of your hospital bills. A survey of plans found prices ranging from $99 per year for dental discounts only to $39.99 per month for a full-service family plan that includes medical visits. Of course, you still have to pay for your healthcare service, but at 20 percent to 70 percent discounts.
2. Subscribe to Direct Primary Care
Direct primary care is similar to a medical plan in that you pay a monthly fee; but where you still have to pay extra for your care under a discount plan, direct primary care includes your medical visits and services for monthly fees that start at less than $70, according to the Direct Primary Care Coalition. The healthcare providers who participate don't accept insurance--in fact, this model developed in response to high-deductible insurance plans. With direct primary care, you get basic services like check-ups, plus hefty discounts on diagnostic tests and prescriptions, included in your fee.
3. Schedule Virtual Doctor Visits
Routine medical issues don't necessarily require an in-person appointment with your doctor. In the absence of ancillary symptoms, for example, the causes of many dermatological issues are obvious to a dermatologist. The dermatologist needs to see an image of the affected skin in these instances, but doesn't need to conduct a full exam to accurately diagnose the problem and prescribe a course of treatment; in such situations, online dermatologist visits are a great virtual substitute for an in-person visit to the doctor. Even issues like upper respiratory infections and sore throats can be treated virtually in most states, and you can get these virtual doctor appointments for under $50 using a mobile app. If you're skeptical about the quality of care, consider going through one of the major pharmacy chains offering this service.
In a perfect world, everyone would have a comprehensive health insurance policy that doesn't cost an arm and a leg or force you to take out a loan to cover your deductible. Unfortunately, there's no such plan on the horizon, but you can get at least basic care for less than a monthly cell bill.