Free, Low-Cost, & Sliding Scale Clinics

One of the most popular sections of the NeedyMeds website is our listing of Free, Low-Cost, and Sliding-Scale clinics. As health care has become more and more expensive, the need for low-cost health care has increased. Many people living in more rural parts of the country have a very limited number of options to see a doctor, and depending on their insurance status the number of available “in-network” doctors is even lower. Many people do not regularly see their doctor, only seeking help when a more serious condition arises. It can be a scary situation to be uninsured and have an unforeseen medical problem come up.

 

We list three different types of clinics on NeedyMeds.org. The first are free clinics, which provide services at no cost to the patient. The second are low-cost clinics that usually have a low flat-fee for all patients or types of visit. The third are sliding-scale clinics; the price for these clinics is based on the patient’s ability to pay, and is usually derived from their income and family size as it relates to the federal poverty level.

 

Each clinic offers a different variety of services. Many clinics are just medical clinics and do not offer any other services, and there are also many strictly dental clinics. There are plenty of clinics, however, that offer a wide array of services. Some services include women’s health, mental health, family planning, STD testing, vision, pediatrics, podiatry and pharmacy services among others. Each clinic also has its own hours, and may only serve select towns or counties.

 

medical clinic signEvery clinic also has its own set of eligibility requirements. In most cases these requirements deal with insurance status, income, and residence status. Some clinics require that the patient has no insurance whatsoever while others work with both the uninsured and underinsured. Many clinics accept patients on Medicare and Medicaid—but not all. Sliding-scale clinics in general have an income requirement based on the federal poverty level, making the clinic only available to those under a certain annual income. There are also many clinics that have no income requirements.

 

We list over 14,000 clinics on NeedyMeds, making it easy to find one near you. From the Free Clinics page, either click on Medical or Dental clinics depending on your needs, and then select your state or type in your zip code to find a clinic in your area. A list of local clinics will appear with contact information, as well as eligibility requirements, services, and hours. You can print out a selection of clinics or the entire page of clinics from your search. We encourage users to check the clinic’s website for any additional information. You can also get the information from our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897.

Relief for Victims of Violence

Violent crime is a reality throughout the world, including the US.  According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), over 1.1 million violent crimes occurred nationwide in 2014.  The FBI defines violent crime as including aggravated assault, rape, robbery, murder and manslaughter. Despite steady drops in crime rates, violence still affects millions of Americans every year. Victims of violent crimes may suffer financial stress resulting from medical bills, lost wages, or funeral costs. Recovering from violence can be difficult enough; fortunately, there are state programs to help those in need.

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The first victim compensation program was created in 1965 in California. By 1972, nine additional states were operating similar programs. The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 established the federal Crime Victims Fund. These programs are funded with fines, fees, and forfeitures from violent offenders rather than tax dollars at both state and federal levels.

 

There are crime victim compensation programs in every state (and Washington, D.C.).  These programs help victims of rape, assault, child sexual abuse, drunk driving, domestic abuse, as well as families of homicide victims. Compensation programs can cover medical bills, mental health treatment, and often includes crime-scene cleanup, travel costs to receive treatment, moving expenses, or even the cost of housekeeping or child care if the victim is unable to do so. The programs are often flexible with their eligibility, though most require reporting the crime to police within a specified time frame and cooperating with the investigation.

 

NeedyMeds has recently added the violent crime victim compensation program for each state and Washington, D.C. to our Diagnosis-Based Assistance (DBA) database—just search for Violent Crime under DBAs. Victims should typically apply in the state where the crime occurred. From here, find your state’s program and click to find their contact information, specific eligibility requirements, and information on how to apply.

Ice Bucket Challenge Funds ALS Breakthrough

Almost two years ago, the Ice Bucket Challenge filled social media feeds with videos and ALS research with donations.  The Challenge prompted athletes, celebrities, Internet personalities, and everyday people to post a video and donate to ALS research.  This year, funds raised from the Challenge are being credited with allowing researchers to identify a common gene found to contribute to the disease.

 

ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the function of nerves and muscles that eventually leads to a wasting paralysis.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis affects 30,000 Americans with the condition at any given time, and 5600 are newly diagnosed each year. ALS kills an average of two out of every 100,000 people annually.

 

With the help of millions raised through the Ice Bucket Challenge a global gene sequencing project called Project MinE has taken a huge step in finding a common gene that is responsible for ALS.  The project sequenced the genomes of over 15,000 people diagnosed with ALS.  The project’s founder who also lives with ALS credits the Ice Bucket Challenge with securing the funding necessary to carry out the ground-breaking research. The discovery of the gene will provide important new therapies and medications that will treat those with ALS as well as predict an individual’s risk for developing the disease later in life.

 

NeedyMeds offers information on several programs that may be able to help those currently suffering and requiring assistance.  Our ALS Resource Page has information and links to Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) for medications commonly prescribed to ALS patients, offering them to patients at low- or no cost. Our Diagnosis-Based Assistance (DBA) page for ALS has several national programs that offer everything from service animals to financial assistance for equipment or home modifications as well as information on the individual ALS Association chapters and other local resources. Additional assistance may also be found in our Chronic, Serious, or Life-Threatening Illness DBA page. NeedyMeds also has information on Scholarships for young ALS patients and those otherwise affected by the disease who are determined to continue their education.

Out-of-Pocket Costs on the Rise

NeedyMeds’ mission has always been to help patients find help covering the costs of health care expenses. A previous guest post from Consumer Reports outlined the problem patients may face when confronted with expensive prescriptions, sometimes having to choose between needed medicine and groceries for their family.  Two recent studies show that the problem may be growing as out-of-pocket costs for health care are continuing to rise.

 

1417202952g3g1pAccording to a study from TransUnion Healthcare, the consumer’s share of healthcare costs rose by 13% from 2014 to 2015. The report also shows that while costs rose, patients had fewer resources to pay for the increase expenses, as the amount of revolving credit had declined.  Out-of-pocket costs include deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.

 

The University of Michigan conducted a second study that calculated the average out-of-pocket expenses for an inpatient hospital stay for a patient with private insurance was more than $1000, increasing 37% from 2009 to 2013.  Forbes reported on the study, noting deductibles rose 86% in the observed time and coinsurance rose by 33% over the same period.

 

Much like patients who have to choose between potentially life-saving medication and food on the table, rising out-of-pocket costs can lead to putting off a doctor’s visit until they are sicker and at higher risk for serious health complications.  No one should have to sacrifice their health due to a lack in finances. For those unable to afford their medications, NeedyMeds has an extensive database of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). NeedyMeds also has information on Coupons and Rebates that can help lower the cost of necessary medications. For those without any prescription coverage, the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card saves 0-80% on any prescribed medication. A plastic card can be ordered online or requested by calling our toll-free helpline at 800-503-6897, or a printable version can be found on our website as well as a smartphone app on Apple and Android devices. NeedyMeds also has information on national Diagnosis-Based Assistance programs (DBAs) that provide various forms of assistance including help with deductibles, copays, and coinsurance to individuals with certain diagnoses.

Know What to Look for When Buying Medication Online

In previous blog posts, we have explored the risks of online pharmacies and the increased risks faced by the elderly. This is largely related to Medicare/Medicaid and the growing number of people who are covered by it. Ten thousand Americans turn 65 every day, and not every treatment is covered by Medicare. This can lead senior Americans to look elsewhere for affordable medications, including potentially fraudulent online pharmacies.

This year, the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) is launching a campaign to raise awareness. A recent review of over 11,000 websites selling prescription medications online to US consumers found nearly 96% noncompliant with US laws and as much as 50% of the medicines sold online are fake. Counterfeit medicines contain little to no active ingredients and could contain dangerous poisons including floor wax, mercury, concrete, chalk, boric acid, road tar, paint or anti-freeze. Interpol estimates that counterfeit drugs are responsible for up to a million annual deaths worldwide.

 

Pharmacy

Lower prices and the convenience of online shopping are major factors driving consumers to the internet for their medications, making older Americans targets for fraudulent drug sellers offering “too good to be true” discounts.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these counterfeit networks make billions of dollars each year but taking advantage of unknowing buyers online.  More than one’s health, one could put their financial and personal information at risk when submitting them to potentially criminal organizations.

 

There are several things to watch out for when looking for an online pharmacy:

  1. Do not use sites that don’t require a valid prescription.
  2. Avoid sites that sell prescription medications by completing an online questionnaire.
  3. Be wary of sites that offer drastically discounted prices; “too good to be true” often is.
  4. Don’t use sites that do not have a licensed pharmacist available for consultation.
  5. Be cautious of businesses that do not display a physical street address.
  6. Avoid websites that offer to ship prescriptions from other countries to the United States.
  7. Do not use online pharmacies that are not verified by the National Association of State Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).
  8. Look for websites using the new suffix .pharmacy (instead of .com or .org) or sites displaying the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) Seal. These help consumers know which sites are legitimate at a glance.

For more information about illegal online pharmacies and counterfeit medicines, consumers should visit www.XtheRisk.com.  For help paying for prescriptions, seniors or caregivers can contact us at NeedyMeds at 1-800-503-6897 or find the information for free on our website.

 

About the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global)Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 11.24.25 AM

Founded in 2009, the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies is an international 501(c)(4) social welfare organization dedicated to protecting patient safety globally and ensuring access to safe and legitimate online pharmacies in accordance with applicable laws.

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