What Is Public Health?

For over 20 years, the first full week of April is National Public Health Week in the United States. Public health was defined in 1920 as “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.” Analyzing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health. Public health professionals work to prevent problems from happening or recurring through implementing educational programs, recommending policies, administering services, and conducting research. Public health also works to limit health disparities by promoting healthcare equity, quality, and accessibility. You can look at public health narrowed down to any population — from a neighborhood, country, or our entire planet.


Many factors affect public health, and people are unlikely to be able to directly control those factors. Social and economic environment, as well as physical environment, can be determinate in their quality of health. Higher income and social status are linked to better health, and those in poverty suffer poorer health outcomes. Low levels of educations are linked with poor health, more stress, and lower self-confidence. Whether there is clean air, clean water, safe and healthy homes and workplaces, or even maintained roads and other transportation options, all contribute to the health of the residing community. The presence of support networks, whether they be families, friends, or community resources, all strengthen public health. Cultural customs, traditions, and the beliefs of the family and community all affect health as do genetic inheritances, including the likelihood of developing certain illnesses. Access to affordable healthcare and people’s personal behavior also affect the public health of their community .

There are many areas throughout the U.S. that do not have access to clean air or potable water; safe homes, workplaces, or streets. Children are not to blame for their level of education, nor are families who can’t afford to leave an area without access to affordable healthcare or support. A large part of promoting public health is to increase access, improve support of determinant factors and advocate for those who suffer without them.


Discrimination and implicit bias affect public health and have been associated with higher rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. Experiences of violence and victimization are frequent for people of color, LGBT people, and women and can have long-lasting effects on individuals and their community. Xenophobia contributes to fears of immigrants as carriers of communicable diseases, despite many immigrants coming from countries with higher vaccination rates than those recorded in many parts of the United States. Public health is also affected by the prevalence of other infectious diseases, some that have been eliminated through hygiene and access to healthcare which can spread among homeless populations who have access to neither.


The effects from climate change have a tremendous impact on global public health: worsening chronic illnesses, increasing the spread of mosquito/tick/rodent-borne diseases, disrupting food and water supplies, and increased stress and trauma for people living all over the world. People who are already at risk for poor health due to social and economic factors — poverty, racism, unsafe housing and neighborhoods, and lack of access to quality medical and mental health care — will likely fare worse in a changing climate than those with greater resources.



The United States has some unique public health concerns, including gun violence. Before 1996, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was charged with researching gun violence much in the way that the CDC researched deaths from car crashes and the life-saving effects of seatbelts and child car seats. Following a 1993 study that connected gun ownership with a higher risk of being the victim of a homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance, the National Rifle Association (NRA) responded by lobbying for the elimination for the CDC’s Center for Injury Prevention. While the Center for Injury Prevention remained, the 1996 federal budget included an amendment forbidding the CDC from “advocating or promoting gun control.” While not explicitly barring the research of gun violence, the language of the amendment created an environment where few within the CDC are willing to risk their careers by pushing for research that could reach conclusions that may be misinterpreted as advocating for gun control laws as opposed to fulfilling its mission of advocating for public health. The CDC still ranks gun violence as a leading cause of death in the United States. Americans are more likely to die by an assault with a firearm than riding inside an automobile, and only marginally more likely to die from an accidental gunshot as opposed to being the victim of a mass shooting. Any death by firearm is more likely in the U.S. than the combined risks of drowning, fire and smoke, stabbing, choking on food, airplane crashes, animal attacks, and natural disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, or lightning strikes. When comparing crime on a whole, the United States has an average amount compared to similar countries; the only outlier in U.S. crime is gun violence.


Communities and the United States as a whole can promote public health through education and policy initiatives. NeedyMeds encourages Americans to be active in the legislative process: If you have an opinion on important public health issues in the United States, call 202-224-3121 to reach the U.S. Capitol switchboard; from there you can be connected to your elected House Representative or Senator’s office. You can find contact information for your local representatives by searching your state online. You could also find contact information for your local health department.

We at NeedyMeds work in a diverse office with people of varying backgrounds and views. NeedyMeds’ mission is to educate and empower patients in need, with a vision of affordable care for all. It should be clear that our mission is tied inextricably to public health and the endeavor to promote and improve public health systems throughout the United States.


The NeedyMeds website has a database of over 17,000 free, low cost, or sliding scale clinics. Search your ZIP code for clinics in your area to find free or low-cost medical attention. There are nearly 6000 free/low-cost clinics listed that offer mental health services. The free NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can be used by anyone to help save money on their prescribed medication — even over-the-counter medicine — regardless of immigration status. The card is available physically via mail, in a printable form, or as a smartphone app for Apple and Android devices. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.

LGBT Health Awareness Week 2019

The last week of March has been LGBT Health Awareness Week since 2003. We have explored some of the barriers to healthcare for the transgender community in previous blog posts, but it remains important to bring awareness to the unique healthcare needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and the health disparities that continue to affect the lives of so many Americans.


Experts report that LGBT people often avoid seeking out medical care or refrain from “coming out” to their healthcare provider. This compromises an entire community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals who are at increased risk for several health threats when compared to heterosexual or cisgender peer groups: Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; lesbians are less likely to get cancer screenings; transgender individuals are among the least likely to have health insurance along with risks from hormone replacement and atypical cancers. Even as youths, LGBT people are at higher risk of violence, depression, substance abuse, homelessness, and other suicide-related behaviors.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) had helped over 10 million Americans gain insurance during the Obama administration, including many LGBT people. The ACA prohibited health insurance marketplaces from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The 2015 Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges recognizing marriage between gay and lesbian couples throughout the United States led to more married couples to access their spouse’s health insurance.


The Trump administration has since dismantled many protections for equal access to care for LGBT people. Shortly after Trump took office, regulations to ban discrimination in Medicare and Medicaid were stopped and the White House declined to enforce the ACA’s anti-discrimination mandate. Throughout his first two years, senior advisors for LGBT health were reassigned to less effective positions and questions regarding sexual orientation were removed from federal surveys. In late 2017, President Trump fired the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) which concerned advocates believe is part of an “effort to erase LGBTQ people.” The mass dismissal followed six members resigning the previous summer, citing the Trump administration’s apparent disinterest in helping the HIV/AIDS community.

In January 2018, it was announced the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would form a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that would functionally allow doctors to refuse treatment for those that go against their religious beliefs — further limiting access to care and undermining the civil rights, health, and well-being of LGBT people, women seeking reproductive health services, and others.  Since last year, HHS websites have removed pages that hosted information on LGBT health and related links, and changed language regarding the ACA’s ban on sex discrimination — specifically removing language about gender identity protections and transgender medical care. Trump’s HHS reportedly considered defining gender as binary, “either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with,” denying the existence of transgender and intersex people, in defiance of the scientific and medical evidence embraced by the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association. Additionally, the Trump administration eliminated references to inclusion and protection from discriminatory housing practices in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission statement, and filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” does not protect individuals on the basis of gender identity, threatening transgender people’s right to be free from unequal treatment.

In President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address, he asked Congress for a commitment to eliminate new HIV transmissions by 2030. This month, the administration began filling seats on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS — over a year after disbanding the group — and released a proposed budget that included $291 million for the Ending the HIV Epidemic plan in 2020 but also called for cutting 12% from HHS funding. The budget proposal also calls for massive $1.5 trillion cuts to Medicare and Medicaid which covers 25%-40% of Americans diagnosed with HIV, respectively, while also cutting $45 million from the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program which provides grants to communities for projects to address housing needs for those living with HIV/AIDS. The impact of cuts to public insurance programs and the safety net would not only negate many of the benefits gained from the addition of the HIV funding that has been proposed but could halt the progress made toward defeating the virus that disproportionately affects LGBT individuals.


The LGBT community continues to rank among the most underserved populations in terms of healthcare. Homophobia/transphobia and stigma can negatively impact one’s ability to receive suitable care. Over 27% of transgender people in the U.S. report being denied healthcare. Mental health is a major concern for LGBT individuals often dealing with physical or emotional abuse, body dysmorphia, depression, or feeling unsafe at school or work, and there are still areas of the United States where finding sympathetic and appropriate help can be prohibitively difficult. If you are looking for a LGBT-friendly medical center, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has an interactive map with locations of over 1600 healthcare facilities in the United States. The HRC also has information on finding insurance for transgender-related healthcare, which can be a challenge for many transgender people even after the ACA.


To further help those in need, NeedyMeds has a growing list of programs in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance database for transgender/gender non-conforming people that offer various forms of assistance such as financial aid or legal services. We also list academic scholarships available for LGBT youths looking to continue their education. NeedyMeds’ unique crowdfunding platform HEALfundr is also available for individuals trying to raise funds for their transition and other members of the LGBT community to receive appropriate healthcare. For more information, call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897 (open 9am to 5pm ET, Monday through Friday).

Poison Prevention & Medication Safety

Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related death in the U.S.. National Poison Prevention Week,  sponsored by the National Poisoning Prevention Council during the third week in March, promotes poison prevention tips and the free emergency services provided by poison control centers, including the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your smartphone.

In the time it takes to read the information above, at least two people will call a poison control center. That’s one person every 14 seconds, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS).

America’s poison control centers managed over 2.6 million encounters in 2017, of which 2.1 million were human exposure cases. And while human exposure calls to poison control showed a 2% decline from 2016, health care facility (HCF) human exposure cases increased by over 3% in this same period, representing almost a quarter of all human exposure calls. Calls with more serious medical outcomes have increased by nearly 4.5% every year since 2000.

Although young children (younger than 6 years) comprise a disproportionate percentage of the cases, poisoning affects ALL age groups, from infants to seniors. Most poisonings occur in one and two year olds, but poisonings in teens and adults are more serious.


The Most Common Causes of Poisoning

Cosmetics and personal care products lead the list of the most common substances implicated in pediatric exposures. Cleaning substances and pain medications follow. These exposures are nearly always unintentional.

The most common substances implicated in pediatric poisonings.

For adults, pain medications lead the list of the most common substances implicated in poison exposures. Sedatives and sleeping medications, antidepressants, and cardiovascular medications follow. Often, these exposures are intentional.

A list of the the most common substances implicated in adult poisonings.


Poison Prevention & Medication Safety Tips

A poison is any substance that can harm someone if it is used in the wrong way, by the wrong person, or in the wrong amount – including prescription and nonprescription medications.

The following BeMedWise medication safety tips are intended to help you prevent accidental poisonings We encourage you to keep them in mind and share them with others.


  1. Ask houseguests to store purses, briefcases, or bags that contain medicines up high, away and out of sight from your children. The same rule applies when your children are visiting a friend or relative’s home.
  2. Buy products in child-resistant packaging whenever possible. But remember, child-resistant is not childproof, and is designed only to keep children away from the product for a short time before a parent notices.
  3. Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after use.
  4. If you think someone has been poisoned, call 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center. Text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your smartphone. This national toll-free number works anywhere in the U.S. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  5. Read medicine labels before use and follow directions exactly. Make sure you are not taking more than one product at a time with the same active ingredient.
  6. Tell children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them.
  7. Never call medicine “candy” to get a child to take it.
  8. Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside.
  9. Always turn the light on when giving or taking medicine. Check the dosage every time.
  10. Put on your glasses to read the label when you need to take a medicine so that you know you have the correct amount of the right medicine.
  11. Never take more than the prescribed amount of medicine.
  12. Never “borrow” a friend’s medicine or take old medicines.
  13. Tell your doctor what other medicines you are taking so you can avoid harmful or dangerous drug interactions. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine, vitamins, and herbal products.
  14. Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically, and safely dispose of medicines that are expired or no longer needed. Refer to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for advice on safe disposal of unused or expired medicine.. For information on safe disposal of needles used outside of healthcare settings, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org or call 1-800-643-1643 from 9am-5pm Eastern Time. Email inquiries: info@safeneedledisposal.org.
  15. Always relock the safety cap on a medicine bottle. If the medicine has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click or you cannot twist any more.
  16. Don’t remove medicine from a child-resistant package and put it in another type of easy-to-open container.
  17. When taking or giving medicines, don’t put the next dose on the counter or a table where a child could reach them.
  18. Use only the measuring device (dosing cup, dosing syringe, or dropper) that is included with your medicine. If a measuring device is not included or you do not receive one, ask for one from your pharmacist. Don’t substitute another item, such as a kitchen spoon.
  19. If you don’t understand the instructions on the medicine label, or how to use the dosing device (dosing cup, dosing syringe, or dropper), talk to your pharmacist or doctor before using the medicine.
  20. Never share or sell your prescription medicines.
  21. Only buy prescription and over-the-counter medicines from a legitimate pharmacy, including online pharmacies. Counterfeit medications are a serious problem in the U.S. and are usually made with harmful ingredients that can kill you. Learn more at the Partnership for Safe Medications and How to Buy Medicines Safely From an Online Pharmacy (FDA).
  22. Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers whenever possible. If you transfer medicines to another container, such as a pill minder or organizer, store them in a place that is too high for a child to reach or see, since these containers are often not child-resistant. If possible, ensure the storage location has a safety latch.
  23. Some medicines are dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Consult your doctor or pharmacist before drinking alcohol if you are taking a prescription or over-the-counter medicine.
  24. Talk to your doctor before taking any vitamins or herbal supplements. They can interact with your medicine.


Resources for Taking Action

Free Printable Resources Library – A Be MedWise collection of health education and medicine safety brochures, tools and tips.

Downloadable Communications Toolkit Take Action to Prevent Opioid Misuse and Abuse by informing patients, their families, caregivers, and others how to manage these serious medications, keep them out of reach from children, family and visitors and then dispose of unused opioids correctly so they don’t get into the wrong hands or damage the environment.

Resources for Action – From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Allied Against Opioid Abuse, (AAOA), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Surgeon General, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and more.

Your Medicine: Be Smart. Be Safe. – You can learn more about how to take medicines safely by reading this guide. It answers common questions about getting and taking medicines and has handy forms that will help you keep track of information. Keep this guide with your medicines in case you have any questions, concerns, or worries.

Medical Tourism: Travel Abroad to Save on Healthcare

The following blog post is an American’s first-hand experience of traveling to Mexico to save money on healthcare procedures. Names and exact locations have been changed/omitted, though the details are all true and have been verified by us at NeedyMeds.


It is no secret that healthcare in the United States can be prohibitively expensive. Because of this, many Americans opt to get their healthcare elsewhere.

According to a 2015 report by the US International Trade Commission (USITC), between 150,000 and 320,000 Americans travel abroad every year to receive medical care. For uninsured Americans, the costs are often less than half what it would be in the states — even when including travel expenses.

Americans covered by insurance can benefit from getting healthcare abroad as well. Most insurance plans don’t cover dental work, cosmetic surgery, or prescription drugs. These routine treatments and procedures can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in the U.S.


I have needed dental work completed for most of my life, with the main factor keeping me from finishing it as an adult being the price. I had unfinished work from my childhood that left me embarrassed and in pain. After getting a number of extractions more than a year ago that cost over $4000 by itself, my goal to save for the restoration was more than I could manage.

This is not to say I hadn’t saved any money, just that it was many times what I had managed to put aside for all the work I still needed done—all of which is needed up front when paying in the U.S. My options were to continue to wait and save and remain in pain and discomfort, or to find a more affordable way to get the dental work I needed.

My parents have recently retired to Mexico. Their community is served by a dentist who my mother would start going to, and who she would later refer to me after she saved thousands of dollars on her own restoration work. My partner and I planned a trip for early 2019.


The dentist (we’ll call them Dr. R) studied dentistry in Mexico City and had further advanced training at Tufts, Harvard, and other U.S. universities. The Mexican government subsidizes his practice due to the advanced training he’s received in U.S. schools. With this funding Dr. R is able to buy top-tier equipment that dental practices in the U.S. would often need to make numerous referrals for their patients to access.

Dr. R can make their own temporary crowns, does orthodontistry, and other cosmetic work that patients are usually sent away from their primary care provider to receive. The locals in the community are often not charged for their care, for which Dr. R is able to provide due to the cash that comes in from foreign patients.


My first dentist appointment in Mexico was brief; a few x-rays, imprints of my teeth, some analysis, and making a plan for the next ten days I would be in the area. It’s worth noting here that dental x-rays can cost between $25 and $250 each in the U.S. I was not charged for them or the first hour-long appointment at all.

The plan was:

  • I needed seven root canals and seven crowns for my top teeth. In the U.S. this would cost $400-$5000 for each tooth. I was initially quoted $300 for each root canal and $500 for each crown.
  • I needed five fillings in my bottom teeth. In the U.S. this costs between $90-$300 per filling; I was quoted $120 for everything.


Dr. R questioned why doctors back home had told me my teeth needed to be extracted, indicating the root and bone was still healthy and that they could be saved with less extreme procedures without the need for future expensive implants. He showed me my x-rays compared to those that required extraction, and it was disappointing to see that mine did look markedly healthier. Even the teeth that had been extracted looked healthier than the ones I hadn’t — I had elected not to extract them sooner because they were front teeth, and I couldn’t afford to replace them at the time. I chose to feel relieved that I was saving what I have left.


The seven root canals were the following morning. Dr. R had called in an endodontist for the procedure, and it took a little less than four hours. I had brought the $2100 that I was quoted ($300 times seven root canals), but was surprised when I was told that the root canals only ended up being $200 each — $1400 for seven root canals, and Dr. R took the extra $700 I had as an advance payment for the crowns which he assured me would arrive before my flight ten days later. I was given antibiotics for a budding infection (which meant I couldn’t drink alcohol for the remainder of my trip) and painkillers; I was not charged for either.

It may be worth noting that there were no fewer than eight “farmacias” within a five minute walk of my parent’s community. Medications are not regulated the same way in Mexico, and prescriptions can be bought by anyone with the money for them [NeedyMeds’ Note: We do not advocate for the use of non-USA regulated pharmacies, especially mail-order].


Seven root canals are far from comfortable, though after the procedure the pain was minimal. The next morning I returned for the temporary caps to be put on, which (including the time it took Dr. R to make the caps) took a little more than four hours. At the end of this appointment, the doctor told me he wouldn’t be charging me for filling the teeth on the bottom, and that I only owed an additional $2800 after the $2100 I had already paid.

The doctor assured me that if I couldn’t pay the balance for a few months it would be just fine (even though he knew I was leaving the country in a little over a week). This was actually under the amount I had saved and I was shocked to have anything left over.


I had almost a week before my next appointment for the bottom teeth, and the following day would be when the porcelain caps were scheduled to be put on — just one day before I flew back home to New England. There was swelling in my gums that subsided over time and my discomfort mostly waned. I couldn’t drink alcohol, but I had lots of gelato.


One of the smaller things the dentist tried to help me was related to a dog attack I suffered late 2017 (I work in the pet industry), as they noticed a tooth was constantly rubbing against some scar tissue on the inside of my lip. Dr. R offered to elect to reshape/contour the tooth slightly, which would reduce its rubbing on the scarred area of my inner lip. This procedure regularly costs $50-$300 per tooth in the U.S.; I was not charged anything more than we had previously agreed.

At first, it was much more comfortable not rubbing against the scars but as the days went on it became more and more sensitive. By the weekend I could barely breathe through my mouth without the pain in the sensitive tooth becoming unbearable.

The following appointment consisted of a cleaning and five fillings, including the one that was now sensitive. This was probably the most uncomfortable of the appointments for me, as I have always had a resistance to novocaine, though it only lasted an hour. I spent the rest of the evening resting after taking a prescription dose of ibuprofen.


My last appointment was the next morning for my permanent caps. The appointment lasted two hours, during which three bridges with the seven crowns were put in. Other than some soreness in my gums, it was the best they had felt in a long time. Everything looked and felt good on my return trip; it was the first time I can remember being able to chew on both sides of my mouth pain-free.


If I were trying to get comparable work done in my home country of the United States, I would have to be prepared to spend at least $20,000-$25,000 — easily more. I spent under $5000 in Mexico; a little more when you factor in airfare and the costs of living in a foreign country for almost two weeks. I spent a total of 12 hours in a dentist chair. I was not charged for any x-rays, prescription medications, or any office visit fees.

It is undeniable that I saved thousands of dollars on my dental care, but also that I am fortunate enough to be able to afford even this. Countless Americans need the kind of dental work that I did, and are not fortunate enough to have family abroad or be able to afford hundreds of dollars in airfare alone.


I cannot speak to the practices of other dentists in Mexico — I imagine Dr. R was very generous with his services and I wouldn’t know if not charging for x-rays or medications is common practice. Based on my experience, and lacking any overhauls of the U.S. healthcare system, I would likely go back to Mexico for any further dental work I may need.


NeedyMeds does not have any information about resources that help patients access healthcare outside of the U.S. or its territories, nor do we endorse medical tourism — anyone considering traveling abroad for medical care of any kind should carefully investigate the care provider and/or the hospital providing the healthcare services — but we do have information on free/low-cost clinics and assistance programs that help with the costs of prescriptions and healthcare throughout the United States and its territories. Visit needymeds.org or call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897.

For those considering seeking healthcare outside of the United States, Joint Commission International (JCI) accredits hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers around the world and is considered the gold standard in global healthcare.

Social Justice & Healthcare

Today is World Day of Social Justice, when we promote efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, and unemployment.

Social justice is the concept that all individuals deserve equal rights and opportunities — including the right to health. Even in 2019, inequities remain in healthcare that are avoidable, unnecessary, and unjust. These inequities are the result of established policies and practices that maintain an unequal concentration of money, power, resources, and perceived value within society among communities based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, country of origin, or disability.


Racism, homophobia/transphobia, and misogyny are all insidious forms of bigotry that have long-reaching effects into healthcare. Over 30% of medical expenses faced by communities of color can be associated with health inequities, and are more likely to be affected by conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/gender non-conforming individuals often report avoiding seeking out medical care or refrain from “coming out” to their healthcare provider. Women can face difficulty accessing health care depending on where in the country they are, being believed or taken seriously by healthcare professionals, can have their bodily autonomy questioned when seeking certain services, and report forgoing healthcare services more than men.

Studies have shown that healthcare professionals may harbor unconscious prejudice towards certain groups, leading to poorer communication and lower quality of care. Discrimination and implicit bias against individuals has been associated with higher rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. Experiences of violence and victimization are frequent for people of color, LGBT people, and women and can have long-lasting effects on individuals and their community. Negative experiences with healthcare providers can also discourage those in need from seeking help in the future.


For many, being excluded from access to affordable healthcare can be a barrier in itself to getting a job and escaping poverty. Homeless individuals face significant barriers when trying to access healthcare, and are at high risk for pneumonia, infections, symptoms from exposure, mental illness, and substance abuse. Lack of affordable healthcare on its own can contribute to homelessness. For families and individuals who struggle to pay rent, a serious illness or disability can lead to a downward spiral into homelessness; one could lose their job due to inability to work, deplete their savings to pay for healthcare, and eventually be evicted from their homes with reduced or no income.

Immigrants face particular health concerns, yet access healthcare services less than individuals born in the United States. This could partly stem from the changing policy that could allow immigrants that access public benefits to be deported. Undocumented immigrant children who have been separated from their parents/families under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy face an increased risk of profound physical and emotional health problems. Thousands of children have been ripped away from their parents with little to no method or plan to ever reunite many of the families.


NeedyMeds’ mission is educate and empower patients in need, with a vision of affordable healthcare for all. Our mission is tied inextricably to social justice and the endeavor of abolishing inequalities.

NeedyMeds has almost 100 disease-specific resource sites for many conditions — Diagnosis Information Pages — including those that disproportionately affect people of color. Our website has a database of over 17,000 free, low cost, or sliding scale clinics, more than 6000 of which offer women’s health services including almost 500 Planned Parenthood locations. Search your ZIP code for clinics in your area, and find Women’s Health in Services under the Details heading to find free or low-cost medical attention. There are also nearly 6000 free/low-cost clinics listed that offer mental health services. NeedyMeds has a growing list of programs in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance database for transgender/gender non-conforming people that offer various forms of assistance such as financial aid or legal services to LGBT individuals who experience barriers in accessing healthcare. The free NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can be used by anyone to help save money on their prescribed medication — even over-the-counter medicine — regardless of immigration status. The card is available physically via mail, in a printable form, or the as a smartphone app for Apple and Android devices. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.