Find how the uninsured can reduce their medical or dental bills.

Unfortunately, tens of millions of Americans do not have private health insurance coverage or their benefits are limited. Or maybe they do not have dental insurance. If you are uninsured, there are still a number of things you can do to save money on all of your medical bills.

The fact is that the uninsured are often faced with escalating health care costs or limited access to doctors or dentists. Many bypass health care as they can never hope to pay the costs. Here are some great tips to reduce your medical bills if you are one of the uninsured or if you just need help with medical bills in general.

The uninsured can sign up for a discount club

Health plans and private companies like Careington Health Systems (phone (800) 290-0523) and AmeriPlan (phone (800) 647-8421) offer discount cards that are available to almost everyone. They are available regardless of whether someone is insured or not. These can be used by patients to help them reduce their health insurance costs. It will make medical care much more affordable for anyone that lacks insurance.

Health care providers (including dentists, doctors, optical, chiropractic and much more) who are part of these plans agree to give members up to a 60 percent discount on their medical bills. They may also provide other benefits to the uninsured, such as free tests, consultations, and more.

While you will pay a monthly membership fee that can be from $10-$30 and you will still need to pay some of your medical bills in cash at the time of your health care service, you will still experience major savings over time. One additional tip before applying is to be sure to review each plan's coverage in the area you live as some regions have fewer participating providers and doctors that participate than others.





Dental care

There are many schools and colleges of Dental Medicine that offer assistance to both the low income as well as uninsured. The schools offer discounted or free dental care. While you may be seen by a student, hygienist or resident of the school, the care provided is always under the close supervision of licensed professionals. Find additional ways to get help with dental bills.

Health insurance for uninsured kids

Each and every state across the country offers a cheap or free health insurance program for children, infants,  and teenagers. While the programs do vary by which part of the country someone lives in, there are many benefits to them. If someone has no private health insurance policy, then in general for little or no cost the state health insurance plan will pay for prescription medicines, routine doctor visits, hospitalization, dental bills, and more. Most of these plans are funded by the federal government CHIP program.

Even better, another tip for the uninsured to save money is that your kids and teenagers are usually eligible for financial aid even if you're employed. Do note though that the exact terms of each state health insurance plan varies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a website where you can learn what plan your particular state offers to those who need help. Read more on CHIP health care.





Eyeglass deals

It is a fact that the best deals and prices on eyeglasses can be found at Wal-Mart, BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco. The prices are very competitive at these retailers. You should always avoid the high-end eyeglass retail outlets and emporiums that are often located at your local mall. The savings are passed along to both the uninsured and even those with vision care.

As just one example, a pair of eyeglasses with what are called featherweight lenses, which may be priced at LensCrafters for $240, cost around $80 at Costco. Another example. Wal-Mart often offers special deals on two pairs of children's eyeglasses. At these locations you will very often find "no-name" versions of the exact same frames and glasses for a much cheaper price. In addition, there are also non-profits that offer free eyeglasses and exams.

Free and low-cost prescription medications for the uninsured

If you visit a hospital, clinic, or doctors office and need medication then you have many options to get cheap or free prescription medicines. The first tip is you should ask your nurse or doctor if they have any samples they can offer you. Or ask them for any other suggestions on how to save money.

The pharmaceutical companies give them plenty of free samples of drugs to pass out to people that lack health or dental insurance. Often the clinic has enough medication for your entire course of treatment. This form of assistance is fairly common for the uninsured and poor.

If they do not have any free drugs, try your local Wal-Mart and Target as they both offer hundreds of prescription medications for under $10. Another tip is that the customer needs to ask for a generic medication to experience these savings.

In addition, many drug companies have prescription assistance programs for the uninsured. For example, Pfizer has an assistance program that if you are newly unemployed and if you have lost your insurance coverage they will provide medications for free. This is offered for any drugs that they manufacture including Lipitor, Celebrex, Lyrca and others for up to one year timeframe. There are some restrictions to the assistance program, but it is a great resources for the uninsured and struggling families.




Tips for emergency hospital room visits

You should not use a hospital emergency room visit for routine or standard medical care. They should only be used when you have a life threatening illness or medical condition. Even if it is after hours, another tip for the uninsured is to see if your general doctor has an after hours service that may provide basic advice on the condition being experienced.

You can rest a little easier knowing that both doctors and hospitals are required to provide some type of care to you to the extent that you're stabilized regardless of your financial situation or income. So regardless of your income or insurance status an emergency room will usually not be able to turn you away. Many states require by law that a hospital treat the uninsured. Find additional ways to get hospital bill assistance.

Hearing aid assistance for the uninsured

For those that have health insurance or that are uninsured, hearing aids are rarely covered by your plans and they can be surprisingly costly. While the prices will vary, they can cost in excess of $4,000 a pair. If need a hearing aid you can try a lower priced, often high quality over-the-counter model from Nexear and other manufacturers.

The prices for these will start at around $299 each and they will usually come with a thirty day risk free trial. If you're unsatisfied with these types of hearing aids after 30 days you can then consider alternatives, such as a Costco house brand unit. These are made by the same big name manufacturers but sold for a fraction of their prices as they are sold under generic brand names. There are also a number of discounts available from non-profits, and read more information on how to find free hearing aids.

Negotiate your hospital and medical bills

According to Consumer Reports as well as the Wall Street Journal, over 70% of respondents who are uninsured and that attempted to negotiate a hospital or medical bill has success. If they asked for a deal from a provider for lower prices, they were successful. Almost 65% of people were successful in negotiating with their dentist for a lower dentist bill and over 61% were successful with their doctor.

Discounts negotiated will range from 20 - 50% and they are often dependent on your personal financial circumstances. The low income and uninsured are generally provided with bigger discounts. But it always pays to ask for help and their is no downside to ask the question. Find other negotiating tips.

Also, if you pay in cash, another tip is that you can usually get a discount on the services provided. While you're asking for a lower bill from your provider, remember to consider how you will pay. If you do happen to be lucky enough to be able to a pay a bill (or even a portion of it) in cash, that will often warrant you a bigger discount if the patient asks.





Doctors and hospitals will usually provide this discount to the uninsured as they will in effect get the funds from the patient in less time. In addition, the hospital will not need to wait on an insurer or the government to pay them. If you can't pay a medical or hospital bill in cash, hospitals and medical providers are frequently willing to consider offering payment terms to anyone that lacks health or dental insurance. This is done to provide you with some form of assistance.

State programs and non-profit alternatives for uninsured to pay medical bills

Last but not least there are some state government benefit programs that can help pay medical as well as dental bills for the uninsured. They tend to focus on families living in poverty, the elderly, or children. In addition, many of these state programs for the uninsured also only address certain health care conditions and are not as wide ranging. However, find state uninsured medical bill assistance programs.

In addition, non-profits and charities also offer low cost health insurance plans to the uninsured or under-insured. These are “non-traditional” policies and will come with different terms and conditions. The coverage is also not as wide ranging as a private policy, but the cost is much less. They can still pay a portion of medical bills and provide other discounts. Find alternative health insurance plans.

By Jon McNamara

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