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What Overturning Roe v. Wade Means for Mental and Physical Health



  • The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, revoking a fundamental right to privacy that protected a person’s choice to have an abortion.
  • Medical and mental health experts have said the ruling isn’t based on scientific evidence and warn of potentially devastating health consequences, including increased maternal mortality rates.
  • Supporting loved ones who may be seeking an abortion is critical to ensure their health and safety.

The United States Supreme Court’s historic ruling to strike down Roe v. Wade on June 24 has real and immediate consequences for anyone who can become pregnant.

As President Biden addressed the nation on what he described as a “sad day for the court and the country,” he said the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke a fundamental right sets the country back 150 years.

Without Roe, an estimated 36 million women and other people who can become pregnant may lose access to safe abortions. Anti-abortion laws are not supported by the medical community and are not based on scientific evidence.

Restricting reproductive freedoms could force millions of Americans to carry a pregnancy to term — even if it jeopardizes their health. Others may resort to unsafe measures to terminate a pregnancy on their own.

Denying access to abortion could mean that survivors of sexual violence may be forced to bear the children of their perpetrators.

This “tragic error of the court,” as described by Biden, will have devastating health implications and is expected to increase maternal mortality rates, particularly among People of Color and other marginalized groups, according to health experts.

The Court had been evaluating the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to determine whether Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban was constitutional.

Overturning Roe, the landmark ruling that has provided a right to privacy and protected a person’s choice to have an abortion since 1973, means that other rights to privacy — such as using birth control or marriage equality — could now be under threat if further cases go to the Supreme Court.

An estimated 26 states are certain or likely to move quickly to ban abortion. At least 13 states, including Mississippi, have trigger laws that are expected to go into effect, which could criminalize those seeking to terminate pregnancies.

Those in states with the tightest restrictions may have to travel out of state for care or order abortion medication from an out-of-state doctor, where legal.

Research from the Guttmacher Institute shows that nearly 1 in 4 women will have an abortion, and a Pew Research poll estimates that 61 percent of adults believe abortion should be legal.

Most people spend the majority of their reproductive lives trying to avoid getting pregnant for a variety of reasons.

But contraceptives are not perfect. In fact, research shows that from 2000 to 2014, 51 percent of people studied were using a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.

When pregnant people lose access to abortion care, research shows they’re more likely to experience financial strain as well as physical and mental health issues, which disproportionately affects people in marginalized groups and those with low socioeconomic status.

For those seeking an abortion in areas with the most restrictions, an analysis from May 2022 estimates that millions will have to travel to a “destination state,” 16 of which have protections in place, to receive abortion care. In Texas, people would have to drive 243 miles to the nearest abortion clinic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “Making health for all a reality, and moving towards the progressive realization of human rights, requires that all individuals have access to quality health care, including comprehensive abortion care services.”

Every major medical group, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), is against restricting abortion access.

In 2019, most abortions (93 percent) occurred during early pregnancy during the first 13 weeks of gestation.

In many cases, abortions can be lifesaving.

Amanda N. Kallen, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine and a member of the Healthline Medical Affairs team, said that pregnancy and childbirth have higher complication risks than abortion.

“Women will die from pregnancy because of this decision,” Kallen told Healthline. “This is a country that already has the highest maternal mortality rates among developed countries.”

In states with abortion restrictions or bans, both medical and surgical abortion procedures could be limited or revoked entirely.

Possible restrictions on reproductive care

The long-term repercussions of Roe v. Wade’s reversal are not fully understood, but experts have expressed concern about possible restrictions and limitations on treatments including:

Higher maternal mortality rates

Experts have warned that restricting abortion access will inevitably lead to higher maternal mortality rates, with People of Color more likely to be affected.

Limitations on medical miscarriage care due to pregnancy complications are possible and could seriously harm people.

An estimated 26% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and miscarriage care (medications or procedures) is similar to abortion care. For example, if treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is delayed or if a pregnant person with sepsis is unable to get an abortion, the miscarriage may go untreated and cause further complications or even death.

The United States already has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country.

In 2020, the maternal mortality rate was nearly 24 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sarah Prager, MD, MAS, a UW Medicine professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology, told Healthline that increased maternal mortality rates will be attributed to the increase in unsafe abortions that will occur as a result of abortions being illegal.

“The numbers of abortions will not substantially decrease, they will just be much more difficult to obtain and in some cases, much less safe,” Prager said. “However, the majority of the increased mortality will likely come from pregnant people being unable to get the abortion they need, which leads to continued (and forced) pregnancies.”

Complications from other health conditions

The physical health effects of being denied an abortion may also vary due to an individual’s prior and present health circumstances.

Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, the director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln in New York City, described three possible scenarios:

  • People with underlying medical conditions that preclude pregnancy continuation: (i.e., those with underlying cardiac malformations, poor cardiac function, pulmonary hypertension, or renal insufficiency) In some cases, pregnancy continuation could mean severe comorbid conditions that result in death.
  • People carrying fetuses with lethal congenital malformations: These individuals may undergo an operative delivery of an infant that will die upon or shortly after birth.
  • People with underlying mental health disorders: Mental health conditions like anxiety or depression could be exacerbated and, in extreme cases, result in an increased risk of suicide, infanticide, or child abuse or neglect.

“My concern as an OB-GYN is the ramifications that will ensue due to masses of desperate women having unsafe terminations,” Gaither told Healthline. “What happens to their families? What’s the medical, social, financial, legal fallout from these situations?”

Doctors who provide care to individuals living in states with restricted access could face legal consequences. What’s more, fewer medical professionals may receive training in abortion care overall, which could affect the health outcomes of patients in the years to come.

According to an April 2022 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, nearly 45% of obstetrics and gynecology residency programs in the United States are certain or likely to lack access to in-state abortion training.

Since abortion care is similar to miscarriage care, this means fewer medical professionals will be trained to perform a miscarriage procedure due to pregnancy complications.

Abortions are also expensive and often not covered by insurance, costing about $500 per procedure. In 2014, 53 percent of abortions were paid for out of pocket, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute. And in a post-Roe world, experts say that abortions will only become more costly.

An abortion can be an emotionally draining process, even when it’s legal. Therefore the mental health effects of carrying an undesired, unplanned, or unhealthy pregnancy to term cannot be overstated, particularly for those subjected to the most restricted access.

Research from 2017 has shown that being denied an abortion is associated with negative psychological outcomes. The physical and emotional toll of having an abortion may affect other areas of a person’s life, including someone’s family relationships, friendships, workplaces, and communities.

Major mental health associations, including the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association, have opposed the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Lori Lawrenz, PsyD, a licensed psychologist at the Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health in Honolulu and Healthline Medical Advisory Board member, explained that the psychological repercussions of being denied an abortion could manifest in a number of different ways. These may include:

  • increased anxiety
  • lower self-esteem
  • depression
  • anger and rage
  • panic attacks
  • paranoia
  • post-traumatic stress
  • guilt
  • shame
  • sexual dysfunction
  • psychosis, hallucinations, and delusions (in rare cases)
  • distractibility (due to intrusive thoughts)
  • stigmatized grief (i.e., a person feels undeserving of their grief and others do not understand or allow this person to grieve their loss)
  • spiritual issues (i.e., people may feel like they’re being “punished” by God or may isolate themselves from their faith community)

Effects on survivors of sexual violence and incest

Victims of sexual violence like rape and incest could be forced to carry a child to term in some states.

Melody Gross, the founder of Courageous SHIFT, a domestic violence coaching company in Charlotte, North Carolina, explained that with little to no abortion access, those experiencing reproductive coercion and abuse are forced to take risks that can be detrimental to their safety and health.

“Being forced to give birth by their abuser can have generational repercussions,” Gross told Healthline.

Effects on marginalized groups

The Supreme Court’s ruling creates yet another barrier for individuals of low socioeconomic status and marginalized groups to overcome, an issue that is both classist and racist.

“Either we are told not to have kids but are not given proper family planning and reproductive health, or we are told to take care of our kids but are not provided the resources (money, housing, mental health services, etc.) to do so,” Gross said.

“Marginalized groups are in a lose-lose situation. Poor people and other marginalized groups are disproportionally impacted by everything the dominant culture takes for granted,” Gross added.

Effects on transgender and nonbinary people

Overturning Roe could have serious implications for the LGBTQIA+ community, such as the reversal of same-sex marriage.

But the impact may be especially significant for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people, who are often left out of the reproductive rights discussion.

While Roe has always been a women’s rights issue, anyone with a uterus who could become pregnant, such as a transgender man, could be denied an abortion in states with restricted access.

Transgender individuals already face discrimination in healthcare settings as is, and are often targeted by conservative lawmakers and anti-trans legislation.

“Consider the body of a transgender person, who no longer identifies as a woman, becomes pregnant, and does not have access to abortion services,” said Elle Moxley, founder and executive director at the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. “The struggle for transgender people to access any type of medical care is real; consider the challenges of seeking reproductive care as an additional barrier.”

Moxley added that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ remarks about considering other laws affirm that other rights and freedoms are under scrutiny.

“Understand that when you’re a transgender person, the laws as they are written are one thing, but it’s not as if we do not face injustice and discrimination at unspeakable levels daily,” Moxley said.

“The laws enable us some protection, but not all,” Moxley continued. “The thought of those being at stake will set a tone of widespread acceptance of discrimination, of the treating of our community members as less-than-human and undeserving of protection.”

Only Congress has the power to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade by making a person’s right to an abortion a federal law. This means that during election season this fall and beyond, Roe is on the ballot.

Voting makes voices heard. Protesting connects people around common causes. Donating to clinics near borders of states with the most severe restrictions provides financial relief to help fund additional resources. And providing emotional support to those seeking abortion care could be lifesaving.

Offer support

If someone you know is denied an abortion and faced with carrying a pregnancy to term, your emotional support is crucial.

“Ensuring that any pregnant individual has the ability to access healthcare is important,” Lawrenz said. “Allow them to know they’re loved and supported, focusing on them as valuable human beings and not just the growing life inside of them.”

Lawrenz added that it may be helpful to allow the person to openly share their emotions.

“Allow any and all feelings to be expressed,” she said. “A vulnerable person filters their thoughts through their fears and vulnerabilities — it’s important to speak love and encouragement to the person to let them know they are supported in whatever way they need to go forward with the pregnancy.”

Help ensure safety

People may resort to unsafe measures to terminate a pregnancy if resources and access are lacking. Others may be experiencing suicidal ideation or navigating unsafe circumstances with their partner.

If you’re ever concerned that a loved one’s health or safety is in danger because they were unable to get an abortion, Lawrenz advised keeping an open dialogue and refraining from judgmental language.

“Kindness goes a long way when it comes to the mental health effects of abortion,” Lawrenz said.

“By supporting people, by voting for laws that support people, by being cognizant of how words may impact people, and being an advocate instead of silently allowing someone to suffer alone are all ways one may be able to help,” Lawrenz said.

In the days following the Supreme Court’s ruling, waves of furious — albeit peaceful — protests clashed with celebrations among conservative and religious communities.

While restricting abortion access will undoubtedly take a toll on the well-being of millions of individuals who are denied care, regardless of what side you’re on, it’s important to acknowledge the long-term implications on a broader scale.

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.

Read the full article here

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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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