Ways To Save Through Free and Low-Cost Medical/Health Services

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

Medical and health services costs continue to escalate with no cap in sight. But here are a few tips on making use of free or low-cost services that could save you a considerable amount of money:

1. If your employer makes available certain free medical care and medicines to employees (and maybe spouses and dependent children) through a "Company" nurse or doctor, then take full advantage of this benefit. You could cut your medical expenses by a tidy sum.

2. If you are a veteran, find out what medical benefits you could be eligible to receive. Call or write the nearest Veteran’s Affairs office for information. The benefits might make a big difference in how much money you must be out for medical care.


3. If you are a college student, take advantage of free or low-cost medical care and prescription medicines offered by the campus student health services.

4. Check to see if you or your family members qualify for Medicaid (a free medical assistance program). Call or go to your local social services office for information.

5. Call or visit your county and/or city Health Department to see what services are offered free or at a reduced cost. Some services which may be offered are medical examinations, immunizations, well-baby care, prenatal care, and TB (Tuberculosis) testing. If the services you need are not provided by the Health Department, ask where you might receive the care at the least cost.

6. See if you qualify for free or low-cost medical services from various charitable organizations, civic clubs, and other groups. Call your county or city Health Department, local office on aging, and local social services office and ask for information on where you should go for the particular help you need. For example, some Lions Clubs provide free eyeglasses for needy children.

7. Contact the business offices of your local hospitals to see if you are eligible to receive free medical care. Some hospitals offer a certain amount of free care, for example, for indigent persons.

8. Take advantage of free tests. For example, some offices of the American Cancer Society provide free colorectal cancer testing. Some national chain department stores offer free hearing tests at various times throughout the year. Some pharmacies located in national chain grocery stores provide equipment within the stores for free, do-it-yourself blood pressure tests. Getting free tests cuts down on your outlay.

9. Watch the newspaper for upcoming Health Fairs and similar public events where a variety of free tests, screening, and information may be available. The following are a few examples of what might be offered: information on alcohol and other drugs; birth control information; blood pressure checks; dental screening; fitness testing; glaucoma screening; nutritional information; stress management information; vision screening; bone density tests; and hearing exams. Not having to pay for these will lower your medical/health expenditures.

10. If you, a family member, or a friend has a drinking problem, call Alcoholics Anonymous for free help. Locate the number in your telephone directory.

11. If you are unsure of where to turn for free and low-cost medical help, call or visit several local churches. The ministers and other church personnel usually will be able to direct you to appropriate places which provide the help you need.

12. Check with your local Health Department and social services office for information on where you can obtain free or low-cost mental health counseling.

13. Inquire at your community mental health services to see if you are eligible for free or reduced-cost mental health counseling. Charges usually are made on a sliding scale.

14. Talk with your minister to see if he or she provides mental health counseling. Such counseling normally will be free.

15. If you are a college student, check with the Psychology Department, Counseling Center, or other appropriate department or office to see if mental health counseling is offered free or at a low cost to students.

*Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself – cagorman@digitex.net