need health care but don’t have insurance?

First published in Landings, April, 2017

If you don’t have a health insurance plan there are still some options available to you for getting health care.

Maine’s community health centers (better known as sliding-scale clinics) deliver quality primary care regardless of your ability to pay. Payments are based on your household income.

Maine Clinics also provide basic medical services. The clinics typically offer services only to people with no health insurance or those who are within certain income limits. They may be open to walk-ins only at certain times of the week. Based on your income, you may receive free care or pay on a sliding scale, so that your fee for services is based on your ability to pay. These fees are reduced for those who have lower incomes with less money to spare for health services.

In addition, every hospital in Maine must offer hospital care regardless of ability to pay, typically called charity care. Each hospital has its own income guidelines. If you have hospital expenses, speak to the hospital billing office to learn if you qualify for the program. Some hospitals have programs that cover a wide range of services, including doctor’s visits and prescription drugs.

Prescriptions drug costs can be expensive but here in Maine there are programs such as MaineCare, Med Access, and ME RX Plus which can help residents pay for prescription drugs. The programs base their fees on household size, income, and sometimes assets. For an application, contact your local Department of Health and Human Services office or call 1-866-796-2463.

If you are not eligible for these programs there are other ways you can get help paying for your prescriptions. In many cases when you talk to your doctor about your situation, he or she may be able to provide you with free samples.

Many drug companies have discount programs that offer a discount on certain drugs. Most programs require that you are without health insurance. For more information about this go to www.needymeds.org

Have you heard about $4 generics? An easy way to save on prescription costs is by buying generic drugs. Generic medications are usually cheaper than brandname drugs and may make it easier to find discounts. Many large retail store pharmacies have started providing generic medications for only $4, regardless of your income and insurance status.


If you would like more help finding any of these clinics, applying for some of the programs listed above, or finding cheaper prescriptions, call me at 207-967-455 or email me at alisha@mainelobstermen.org.