The old adage that “the best things in life are free” is especially true when it can be applied to the expensive things we really need in life, like health care.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many states have expanded Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Generous subsidies are also available for those who qualify to purchase through the marketplace. It may not be free health care, but it may be extremely affordable. Find assistance in your area at:
Donate Blood. Blood type and Rh, complete blood count, AIDs (HIV) and hepatitis screening are all performed free of charge if you donate a pint of blood.
Pregnancy Tests. Free pregnancy tests are offered at Planned Parenthood (although not at every location, so call ahead).
States themselves have free pregnancy programs, e.g.
Denverhealth.org, safreepregnancytest.com in San Antonio and prenatal.webs.com in Fresno, California.
Use a search tool like Google to find centers in your area that offer free pregnancy tests.
Kidney Screenings. Free kidney health screenings are available to those over the age of 18 at The American Kidney Fund with nationwide clinics listed on their website. Test often encompasses blood pressure check and blood tests. The blood tests screen for:
- Iron level (to rule out anemia
- Lipid panel (cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL, VLDL, cholesterol/HDL ratio)
- Kidney function
- Liver function
- Heart function
- Thyroid function
- Bone/muscle function
Examinations, Imaging and Surgical Procedures
Blood pressure. You can check it frequently for free at CVS, Walgreen and other drugstore chains.
Mammograms. Free mammography is available at vans travelling through various counties. In addition, free mammography can be obtained through the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which partners with many facilities nationwide.
NBCF National Mammography Program also mandates that medical facilities within their network continue treatment after an abnormal finding or diagnosis of breast cancer is made.
Even with insurance, medication can be expensive with costs just out of reach for those without drug plans. The average cost of a chronic medication is approximately $900 a year. But there’s no reason to feel the pressure of choosing between life-saving drugs and rent. There is help.
Antibiotics. Several supermarkets give antibiotics away for free (with accompanying prescription). Stop & Shop includes as many as 36 generics. Giant Foods has a similar program. Among the antibiotics offered are:
Publix has a free antibiotic program with all of their pharmaceutical chains participating. Under their program, one can get:
- Penicillin VK
Patient Assistance Programs. Pharmaceutical companies recognize the hardship facing many people who need prescription drugs, but cannot afford them. The programs enable the unemployed, seniors, the disabled or low-income individuals without drug plan to get the prescriptions they need.
Most drug companies offer free prescription medicines through federal assistance programs if you earn less than:
- $88,200 for a family of four or more
- $58,280 for couples
- $43,320 for unmarried people
Additionally, if you have no drug insurance and can show hardship or you have reached the gap in insurance prescription coverage, as in Medicare beneficiaries with Part D, you are also eligible.
Once your application is approved, you are provided with the medication free of charge for an entire year. There is no limit to the amount of times that one can apply, but each medication has its own criteria.
Most companies have these programs but forms must be filled out to prove eligibility. Gratefully, the Free Medicine Program, a volunteer organization, helps people enroll into these assistance programs and accelerate the submission process. Applications can be found on their website.