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Gender Affirming Care Saves Lives: How Can We Help?



Raydra Hall’s son Quill tried to kill himself twice by the time he was 16. That’s when he started seeing a therapist and came out as trans.

Louisiana state law required that Quill complete a year of therapy before pursuing hormone treatment, which helps align the body’s physical characteristics with a person’s gender identity.

The promise of receiving the gender affirming medication became a light at the end of the tunnel for Quill.

“We immediately started doing our own research on the effects and side effects [of testosterone treatment], because we wanted to be as knowledgeable as possible,” Hall says.

Hormone therapy had an enormous effect on Quill’s life.

“He was a different kid — happier, more able to be himself — the improvements are amazing,” Hall adds.

Quill is now 20 and works as a bartender, a people-person job he never would have been comfortable with before, Hall says.

In March of 2022, however, Louisiana joined a growing number of states that have, over the past few years, proposed banning gender affirming care for minors. This is a legislative assault with life threatening consequences.

“If my son hadn’t been able to get treatment and be on testosterone, he would have still been suicidal,” Hall says.

Gender affirming healthcare refers to an array of medical treatments that support an individual’s gender identity. For young people, that most often includes mental health services and pharmaceutical intervention, similar to what Quill received.

“The approach to gender affirming care is individualized to each person’s needs,” says Kareen M. Matouk, PhD, an instructor in medical psychology in Columbia University’s gender identity program.

Matouk notes that integral components of gender affirming care can include:

  • age-appropriate psychoeducation about gender and sexuality
  • family support
  • guidance around social interventions
  • gender affirming medical interventions for those interested in medical transition

For kids who have not yet reached puberty, medications known as puberty blockers can delay the process and give patients and their families time to consider how to proceed, according to Planned Parenthood. Blockers can keep someone from experiencing puberty for a gender they don’t identify with, a process that can be deeply upsetting.

After the age of puberty, a person can use hormone therapy treatment to help align their body with their gender identity, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says. One example is when a trans boy takes testosterone to help develop a deeper voice and facial hair.

Both puberty blockers and hormone therapy are considered effective treatments for gender dysphoria. This refers to the distress experienced when someone’s body doesn’t align with their gender identity, according to 2022 research.

Medical guidelines generally do not recommend gender affirming surgeries before a child reaches age 18, though there are exceptions.

On the other hand, the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy for trans youth is strongly supported by leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Plus multiple studies have confirmed their positive health effects, including one from 2019 and one from 2022.

Gender affirming care is very often lifesaving for trans and nonbinary youth, more than half of whom have seriously considered suicide, according to The Trevor Project. In fact, receiving gender affirming care has been associated with nearly 75 percent lower odds of suicidality among trans and nonbinary young people.

But a growing onslaught of state legislation aims to criminalize this lifesaving care.

An Alabama law that went into effect in May 2022 makes providing gender affirming treatment to trans youth a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Texas has proposed classifying gender affirming care as “child abuse.” At least 22 states have introduced similar bills, according to the Movement Enhancement Project. This puts nearly 60,000 kids at risk of losing essential care, based on a 2022 study.

The growing attacks on healthcare for trans youth go directly against the medical evidence that proves its benefits, targeting healthcare professionals and supportive parents for acting in children’s best interests.

“To me, it’s a life or death issue,” says Hussein Abdullatif, MD, co-lead of the University of Alabama’s pediatrics’ gender health team, which provides young trans patients with care recently outlawed by the state’s ban.

“Failing to provide affirming care is like a death sentence to these kids,” Abdullatif says.

Mental and emotional distress is often what leads trans youth to seek out care. Abdullatif says he regularly receives people admitted to the hospital for self-harm.

Withholding gender affirming care can make health conditions worse or lead to other conditions, including:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • substance use
  • eating disorders

These conditions can persist well into adulthood and require ongoing treatment.

“My biggest fear of not providing [gender affirming] medications is that someone will end up dying by suicide because of loss of hope,” Abdullatif says.

Supportive medical care can also help kids understand gender dysphoria and see a path forward they may not have known existed.

“Being from a small town, the term ‘transgender’ never even hit our radar,” says Damien Connor, who sought counseling and hormone treatment around age 16. In his home state of Tennessee, multiple bans on gender affirming care have been proposed over the last 2 years.

“We didn’t know why he was so miserable in his body, we didn’t know that’s what dysphoria was,” says Damien’s mom, Candace Johnson. “We thought, ‘He’s a sad kid, and I hope he makes it through. What do I do?’”

A turning point came when Damien was around 15 and decided to cut his hair short.

“I liken it to when Frosty the Snowman puts on that magic hat,” Johnson recalls. “It was so phenomenal, it changed his whole demeanor. He was happier, and being happy felt good.”

That’s when Johnson started researching why a change in gender expression could cause such a positive shift.

“We didn’t know how to get from point A to point B,” she says, and it was through supportive healthcare professionals that they came to realize Damien was trans.

“My counselor really helped me navigate and understand what I was feeling in more detail, and let me know it was OK to feel this way, because it is normal,” says Damien, who’s now 22.

“Having the resources that we needed to move forward, honestly, we’ve been really lucky,” he says. “But the legislation that’s being pushed through now, I hate what’s happening because it’s so unfair. Not everyone gets to have an easy transition.”

Johnson also considers that Damien may not have put up a fight had they met with obstacles to receiving gender affirming care.

“If he had been shoved down, which a lot of kids and families are, he would have said, ‘OK, I’ll just deal with it and go back to being sad,’” she notes.

That’s another reason providers of gender affirming care are so important to trans kids.

“If there’s a child who needs help, just like I did, neither [they nor their provider] should have to think about consequences,” Damien says.

Some healthcare professionals focus specifically on the needs of trans and nonbinary youth. These specialists include therapists, pediatricians, and endocrinologists who treat patients pursuing medical transition.

Still, it’s important for all medical professionals to create an affirmative environment for gender-expansive patients.

“It’s really important to let these kids know that we’re listening to them, that we’re addressing their concerns with open-mindedness and empathy,” Abdullatif says.

Some healthcare professionals may need to seek out additional information to give their patients the best possible care.

“Our pediatrician didn’t really know much about transgender children,” says Hall. “But she was wonderful, and started doing research of her own so she could be better for him.”

She also referred them to a pediatric endocrinologist.

It’s important for healthcare professionals to take initiative, rather than relying on their patients to educate them about their needs.

“A lot of my early training was talking to my trans patients and learning from them, and that’s not really fair,” said Lori Lawrenz, PsyD, in a Healthline Media physician interview study conducted in July 2021. “They deserve for their providers to know about their situation like we would know about depression or anxiety.”

Conversations between colleagues are the most common means of exposure and education about the needs of LGBTQ+ patients, so encouraging communication among healthcare professionals is an important step forward.

Cultural competency, or knowing how to address and affirm gender diverse patients, can help every provider better serve their needs, even if those people are later referred to a specialist for particular care.

Every contact a patient has in the process of seeking care needs to be supportive as well.

“It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable I am as a physician if the front desk staff isn’t equipped to handle diverse patients,” Mia Armstrong, MD, said in the Healthline Media physician interview study. “The patient won’t trust me if they didn’t feel welcome upon entering.”

Trans youth often face bullying, discrimination, and harmful attacks — increasingly from politicians who don’t understand them or their needs.

These kids are especially vulnerable right now. They need support from loved ones, medical professionals, and everyone who has a voice in our democracy.

Get involved

Use this tracker from Freedom for All Americans to see where anti-trans legislation has been introduced, and find out how to get involved.

Identify candidates who affirm trans rights, support their campaigns, and vote for them in November.

You can also donate to the American Civil Liberties Union or the Human Rights Campaign, which are actively fighting anti-trans legislation in court.

Speak up

“I tell people to make this personal,” says Jo Ivester, speaker and author of “Once a Girl, Always a Boy,” a memoir about her son Jeremy, who transitioned as an adult.

If you hear someone make a transphobic comment, tell them, “I know someone who’s trans, or I know someone who has a trans son, and they’re deserving of dignity and respect,” says Ivester, who also serves on the board of Equality Texas, an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ rights in the state.

Express support

“Sharing online messages of support, especially that uplift trans and nonbinary voices and highlight trans resilience, is one way of standing in solidarity with the community,” Matouk says.

Let the people in your life know where you stand and mobilize them to get involved, whether by signing petitions to legislators or getting out the vote.

“If there are any trans and nonbinary people in your life, this is especially a good time to reach out and check in on how they are doing and show love, support, acceptance, and respect,” Matouk says.

Trans and nonbinary youth are among the most likely to experience poor mental health and suicidality, according to 2020 research.

Many may face lots of obstacles to their well-being, including family rejection, social ostracization, and, increasingly, legislative attacks.

Gender affirming care has been proven to save young people’s lives — and protecting their right to access the help they need is essential.

Read the full article here

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Examples of the Effects of Mental Health Stigma



Over the past few decades, we’ve come a long way in how we view and talk about mental health.

And that should come as no surprise, because 1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental health condition. Many people are also becoming more open to the idea of sharing their personal experiences.

But there’s still a stigma surrounding mental health. It’s a stigma, in fact, that affects millions of people around the world who live with mental health conditions. It affects everything from their social relationships and professional opportunities to the way they view themselves.

We’ll explore more about what mental health stigma is, and how we can all work to address this and improve the lives of people living with mental health conditions.

Mental health is often stigmatized because of a lack of understanding about what mental health conditions are and what it’s like to live with a mental health condition. Stigma can also arise from personal thoughts or religious beliefs about people who have mental health conditions.

Generally, the lack of understanding about mental health — as well as the harmful assumptions about people living with mental health conditions — is at the heart of a bias or stigma. This can result in avoidance, rejection, infantilization, and other discriminations against people who are neurodivergent or have a mental health condition.

We often use the word “stigma” to describe the overarching experience that people have. However, there are actually three types of stigma: public stigma, self-stigma, and institutional stigma.

  • Public stigma: This refers to the negative attitudes around mental health from people in society.
  • Self-stigma: This describes the internalized stigma that people with mental health conditions feel about themselves.
  • Institutional stigma: This is a type of systemic stigma that arises from corporations, governments, and other institutions.

While there are many examples of mental health stigma in society, here are some of the more common instances you might notice:

  • When people are viewed as attention-seeking or weak when they try to reach out and get professional help.
  • When others use harmful language, such as “crazy” or “insane”, to judge or trivialize people who have mental health conditions.
  • When people make jokes about mental health or certain conditions.
  • When people avoid others with certain mental health conditions, like schizophrenia, because of fear or misunderstanding.
  • When family or friends tell someone with depression that they can get better if they just “work out and get more sun,” or make other unhelpful judgments.
  • When someone living with a mental health condition views themselves as worthless or talks down to themselves because of their condition.
  • When companies refuse to hire someone or provide them with adequate accommodations because of their mental health.
  • When people view examples of neurodivergence as illnesses or something to be cured.

A 2021 study explored the trends of mental health stigma in the United States over a period of more than 20 years, between 1996 and 2018. In the study, researchers reviewed surveys from across the country on attitudes toward various mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, depression, and alcohol dependence.

According to the study results, from roughly 1996 to 2006, people became more knowledgeable about mental health — including acknowledging differences between daily experiences and symptoms of diagnosable conditions.

And from around 2006 to 2018, there was a significant decrease in social stigma against depression — specifically, less desire to be socially distanced from people with depression. However, when it came to schizophrenia and alcohol dependence, not only did social stigma increase but so did negative perceptions of these conditions.

Another earlier study from 2018 took a slightly different approach in analyzing the social perception of mental and physical health conditions. In this study, researchers used automated software to track over a million tweets related to mental health and physical health over a 50-day period.

According to the results of the study, mental health conditions were more likely to be stigmatized and trivialized than physical health conditions. And the results varied by condition — with schizophrenia being the most stigmatized, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) being the most trivialized.

Intersectionality refers to how someone’s intersecting identities — such as race, gender, sexuality, or class — contribute to their own unique experience with discrimination and oppression.

When it comes to mental health, intersectionality can play a huge role not only in someone’s overall mental health, but also in how mental health stigma affects them.

For example, research suggests that Black and Latino people experience mental health conditions more severely and persistently than other racial or ethnic groups. Much of this imbalance stems from factors like institutionalized racism, prejudice, and other outside circumstances.

Another study from 2021 looked into the use of mental health services by young Black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in HIV care.

According to the researchers, less than 20% of the men who were referred to mental healthcare from the clinic continued to receive the recommended care — often as a result of increased social and professional stigma for men to go without mental healthcare of any kind.

Mental health stigma can have a hugely negative impact on the lives of people living with mental health conditions. In fact, stigma can often lead to mental, social, or even professional consequences for the people who are stigmatized.


People living with mental health conditions are more likely to experience low self-esteem and lower self-confidence if they’re stigmatized.

Stigma may lead to difficulty seeking treatment or even following through with treatment. And some people may experience increased symptoms of their condition, or even develop new ones — like anxiety or depression — because of experiencing stigma.

Self-stigma may even hinder someone’s ability to recover from a mental health condition. In one smaller study from 2018, researchers found that higher levels of self-stigma were associated with a decrease in recovery from mental health conditions.


Social mental health stigma may lead to isolation from friends or family. People with mental health conditions may experience bullying or harassment from others — or possibly even physical violence.

And when others have a judgmental view of mental health, it can be difficult for people living with these conditions to build relationships with them.

Research has shown that perceived and experienced social stigma may also play a role in suicidality among people with mental health conditions. According to the literature, people who experience discrimination (even anticipated discrimination), social stigma, and self-stigma may be more likely to experience suicidal ideation.


Stigma in the professional world can lead to fewer opportunities to excel at school and fewer opportunities to advance at work. People living with mental health conditions may have difficulty fulfilling school or work obligations — especially if they have trouble with classmates, teachers, coworkers, or bosses.

It’s not just classmates or colleagues who contribute to mental health stigma in a professional setting, either. Research suggests that when healthcare professionals exhibit negativity toward people with mental health conditions, or have a lack of understanding about these conditions, it can prevent people from accessing high quality care.

Stigma comes from everywhere — institutions, society, and even ourselves. But we can all take steps to address and reduce the stigma of mental health:

  • Learn about mental health: One of the most important steps toward reducing mental health stigma is to learn more about it. Learning what mental health conditions look like and who they can affect can help reduce some of the fear, misunderstanding, and judgment around them.
  • Use words carefully: When we use words with negative associations, like “insane” or “crazy”, we contribute to the judgment and stigmatization of others. It may take some effort to change the way we speak, but it can help reduce the stigma that people with mental health conditions face.
  • Take part in campaigns: Many mental health organizations, like NAMI, create fundraising campaigns to help bring awareness and provide funding for mental healthcare. Even if you can’t get directly involved, these campaigns are a great way to learn more about people living with mental health conditions.
  • Share your story: If you’re someone living with a mental health condition, one of the most powerful tools for reducing stigma is to share your story. By educating people on what it’s like to live with a mental health condition, we can help reduce the misunderstanding and judgment that people feel.

Mental health stigma plays a significant role in the lives of people with mental health conditions — from the way that they’re treated to the way they feel about themselves. But we can take steps to reduce this stigma.

By being more mindful about how we speak to others, learning more about what it’s like to live with a mental health condition, and sharing our stories when we’re living with these conditions, we can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

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Can People with Diabetes Eat Candy?



Eating candy can be a controversial topic for people with diabetes.

Misconceptions about sugar and candy being off-limits for people with diabetes can be found in the public mindset, in media and entertainment, and within the medical community itself.

With the Halloween season upon us, both kids and adults with diabetes as well as their loved ones and friends may face this issue even more often than at other times of the year.

This article will explore if people with diabetes can actually eat (and enjoy) candy, how much may be allowed, and whether sugar-free candy is worth considering.

Short answer: Yes, people with diabetes can eat candy.

Adults and children with diabetes (no matter the type) are just as entitled to a sweet treat occasionally as anyone else. Like everything else, details and context matter most, and moderation is key for anyone living with diabetes when it comes to food choices. High sugar foods and drinks can impact glucose levels more quickly and dramatically, so understanding how those influence your diabetes management is important.

People with diabetes must consider extra planning if they want to eat candy. They need to be cognizant about counting carbohydrates and dosing insulin correctly if they happen to use that hormone to help manage their condition.

It’s important to remember, too, that people with diabetes are typically watching the total carbohydrate count of food and drink, and not necessarily honing in on the sugar content.

While candy can make blood sugars rise more quickly, it’s that carb count that needs to be watched when consuming a piece of candy. The same applies to sugar-free candy, which also contains a certain amount of carbohydrates and that needs to be considered when factoring that food choice into your diabetes management.

Certain candies, such as those containing peanut butter or nuts, can take longer to impact blood sugars and won’t lead to as dramatic spikes immediately after eating them. However, other regular candies with sugar can cause quick spikes in blood sugar, and some medical professionals suggest eating a piece of candy closer to mealtime in order to “soften the blow” of a sudden spike in blood sugar.

Of course, you’ll still need to account for the calories and carbs contained within the candy.

While sugar-free candy certainly doesn’t get an award for being “healthy” per se, many people with diabetes (especially children) turn to it as an alternative to regular candy. The thought is that sugar-free candy may be healthier for blood sugar levels.

Sugar-free candy is made with artificial sweeteners, meaning that it can have a lighter impact on blood sugar levels.

However, a common misconception is that sugar-free candy does not impact blood sugar. It does, in fact, contain carbohydrates and calories. That means you still need to dose insulin or take glucose-lowering diabetes medications for those sugar-free candies.

If someone with non-insulin dependent diabetes is being mindful of their weight, eating sugar-free candy is not a free pass for sweets. These sugar-free options may sabotage weight loss efforts due to their high calorie content.

A non-diabetes-related benefit of sugar-free candy is that it’s kinder to teeth. Absent of the higher sugar contents, these sugar-free treats don’t lead to as much tooth decay or cavities often linked to frequent sugar consumption.

Additionally, there’s usually not a very big difference in terms of total fat or protein content in sugar-free versus regular candy.

Examples of artificial sweeteners used in sugar-free candy include:

  • stevia
  • sucralose
  • aspartame
  • saccharin

The big issue with sugar-free candy comes down to sugar alcohols in those treats, which can have some negative effects depending on how much you eat.

In this older study, researchers gave study participants either sugar or one of two kinds of sugar alcohol (erythritol and xylitol).

Side effects included:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea and upset stomach
  • bloating
  • excess gas

The study participants who were given sugar experienced no such side effects.

Sugar alcohols are considered fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, or a type of FODMAP. These are food molecules that some people cannot digest easily, especially when eaten in large quantities.

Sugar alcohols can also cause a laxative effect, especially if you’re prone to stomach issues.

While they contain fewer calories than sugar, they’re not calorie-free. Eating any treat in excess can inhibit weight loss or cause weight gain.

Eating sugar-free candy made with artificial sweeteners can also cause side effects, including interrupting the gut microbiome that is important to your health.

A 2019 study and older research show that saccharin, sucralose, and Stevia change the composition of gut microbiota. In one study, people who had disrupted gut bacteria also showed worse blood sugar control 5 days after eating the artificial sweetener.

While it may not be the healthiest low snack, treating any low blood sugar with fast-acting sugar can be helpful.

Some candies that contain sugar are very fast-acting. However, some others (including those with chocolate or peanut butter) have higher fat content and are slower to digest and take longer to impact blood sugars, so they may not be appropriate to treat severe hypoglycemia quickly enough.

Another con of eating candy to treat low blood sugars is that it can react quickly and if you eat too much, it may cause higher blood sugars (rebound highs).

Make sure to consult your diabetes care team about any concerns or questions relating to candy and treating low blood sugars.

Yes, children and adults with diabetes can and do eat candy. The key is moderation and making sure to track the number of carbohydrates and calories eaten. Sugar-free candies can be better for blood sugar levels, but they still contain carbs and calories. The sugar-alcohols in these treats can also cause upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, and excess gas.

Candy can be used to treat hypoglycemia, but it may not always be appropriate for urgent low blood sugars requiring glucagon or emergency medical assistance.

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Where Can I Go for Medical Care Without Insurance?



Finding affordable healthcare without insurance may seem daunting, but there are more options than you may think. Here are more than 18 resources that can provide assistance.

It’s no secret that accessing healthcare can be very expensive. If you don’t have insurance, those costs are even higher. In fact, 85% of uninsured people in the United States reported that paying for healthcare was difficult in 2022.

Fortunately, there are resources that can help you find and pay for medical care without insurance. You can find care at low or no cost with a variety of programs designed to help people without health insurance get the care they need.

Yes, you can get medical care if you don’t have health insurance.

In the United States, hospital emergency rooms are required to provide treatment regardless of insurance or ability to pay.

Additionally, there are many medical facilities that provide routine care to people who don’t have insurance. You will be asked to pay for any care you receive, but there are ways to find healthcare at a lower cost.

There are a variety of options for seeking care if you don’t have insurance. Many of these options are designed to be affordable. In some cases, you might be able to get certain healthcare services for free.

You can find low cost or free care in several locations:

Community health centers

Community health centers are nonprofit health clinics that offer low cost or free care. Often, fees are set on an income-based sliding scale, and staff will work with you to determine your costs.

The exact services offered by a community health center depend on the location but generally include:

  • preventive healthcare
  • basic healthcare
  • family planning services
  • vaccinations
  • chronic condition management

Some community health centers also offer prescription medications and dental care. You can search for community health centers near you by checking here.

State or county departments of health

Your state or county department of health might cover certain healthcare services for eligible residents. Often, this includes access to preventive care, such as vaccines or screenings.

You might need to register in advance and prove that you reside in the county or state to receive free care.

You can search for your local department of health here.

Urgent care and walk-in clinics

Urgent care centers and walk-in clinics offer care without an appointment. Often, these facilities offer reduced cost care for people who don’t have insurance. Some urgent care centers list costs for standard services on their websites.

You can also call ahead to talk with a representative about fees and possible cost reductions for people without insurance.

Pharmacy care clinics

Pharmacies, including the pharmacies inside major national chains such as Walmart, often provide preventive care services for free. These services are normally provided during health clinics held on specific days.

Services offered can vary but typically include:

You can check with your local pharmacy about any upcoming clinics, or search online for pharmacy clinics in your area.

Teaching hospitals

If you have a teaching hospital in your area, you might be able to receive care at a reduced rate. The exact care you can access at a reduced rate depends on the hospital and the needs of the medical students.

You can call the teaching hospital and ask whether they offer any reduced cost care.

Employer-sponsored wellness programs

Some employers offer wellness programs to their employees. In many cases, this includes preventive healthcare, such as annual vaccines and healthcare screenings.

You can check in with your human resources department if you’re not sure what healthcare benefits are part of your employer’s wellness program.

The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics

You can use the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics website to search for health clinics and pharmacies in your area that offer free or low cost services.

The association is dedicated to caring for people who are uninsured or underinsured. There are more than 1,400 clinics and pharmacies in the association.

If you need assistance paying for care, you have a handful of options:

Charity care

Some states offer charity care that reduces the cost of medical care for people who meet income requirements. If you qualify, you can receive low cost or free medical care.

In certain states, people are screened automatically. In other states, you will need to apply for the program.


Medicaid is a federal program that provides healthcare for people who meet income requirements. Each state oversees its own Medicaid program. Income limits and exact coverage vary by state.

You can find your state’s Medicaid website here.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal program that provides healthcare for children. Just like Medicaid, qualifying for the program depends on income level. Each state sets its own income limits and coverage varies.

You can read about CHIP in your state here.

The Hill-Burton program

The Hill-Burton program provides funds to participating hospitals and healthcare facilities in exchange for offering a set amount of free or low cost care to people who meet income requirements.

You will need to apply for the Hill-Burton program with the admissions or business department of the healthcare facility. You can find a directory of Hill-Burton facilities here.

Aunt Bertha

Aunt Bertha is a social and human services database you can search to find programs in your area. This includes programs that can help you pay for healthcare.

You can enter your ZIP code and a category to find programs that will meet your needs.

Keeping prescription costs low is a great way to lower your overall healthcare costs. Here are some options:

Prescription drug manufacturer programs

The makers of many prescription drugs offer programs to help people afford their medications. You can often join these programs to get your medication at low or no cost. You might need to meet certain income requirements to qualify.

You can use RXAssist to search a database of manufacturer programs.


GoodRx is a website that will show you the prices of your medication at stores in your local area. It can also show prices at online and mail-order pharmacies. By comparing pharmacies, you can find the lowest price.

Plus, GoodRx will even help you find coupons and manufacturer discounts.

Pharmacy memberships

Walmart, CVS, and other pharmacies have membership programs that can save you money. By signing up for these programs, you can get access to discounts on your medication. You can also earn discounts to use on other pharmacy purchases.

Grants for charitable organizations can cover your medical costs. Some examples include:

The PAN Foundation

The PAN Foundation helps uninsured people who have received a diagnosis of a life threatening, chronic, or rare disease pay for their medical care. You can see a list of conditions the foundation currently provides assistance for on its website.

If you have a condition listed on the site, you can instantly check your eligibility and can then apply online for a grant.

The HealthWell Foundation

The HealthWell Foundation helps uninsured people with certain medical conditions pay for their medical expenses. You can see their list of covered conditions on its website.

If you have a condition covered on the site, you can apply for a grant that will cover your medical expenses.

Good Days

Good Days is an organization that can help people with chronic and acute conditions pay for their medical treatments. You can check out the list of covered conditions here.

Applications for assistance are available in both English and Spanish.

There are a few additional options you can explore to get access to lower cost or free healthcare. If you haven’t already, consider doing the following:

  • Ask the hospital or doctor’s office about installment payment programs.
  • Search for programs specific to a health condition you have.
  • Apply for low cost health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • If you’re a veteran, apply for VA benefits.
  • Sign up for clinical trials in your area to help researchers study new treatments.
  • Consider telehealth for conditions that don’t need in-person care.

You can learn more about accessing medical care without insurance by reading answers to common questions.

When can I enroll in Medicaid?

If you qualify for Medicaid, you can enroll at any time. Check out your state’s Medicaid website for income limits and other details.

What if I can’t pay an emergency room bill?

In an emergency, getting care is your No. 1 priority. But this can leave you with a bill that is outside of your budget, especially if you don’t have insurance.

However, medical bills are often negotiable. In many cases, you can call the hospital’s billing department to work out a plan.

If you’re unable to work out a plan with the hospital, there are nonprofit organizations that can help you apply for debt forgiveness.

Will healthcare professionals treat me if I don’t have insurance?

It’s illegal for healthcare professionals to refuse care in an emergency.

This isn’t the case for nonemergency care. Most healthcare professionals will list payments they accept on their websites.

If private pay is listed, you can get treatment without insurance. If it’s not, it’s best to call in advance to make sure the healthcare professional accepts patients who don’t have insurance.

You have options for receiving medical care even when you don’t have health insurance. There are several sources you can turn to for care, prescriptions, payment help, and more. Some programs are limited to certain states or certain health conditions.

Additionally, you will need to meet income requirements to qualify for some of these programs. If you don’t, options like telehealth and urgent care can help you cut costs.

You can also look into getting affordable insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

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