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Help for Those Who Are Uninsured or Underinsured

By October 8, 2009

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The state of our current economy has caused skyrocketing unemployment. This has left many Americans without health insurance. Even with the option to continue health coverage with a former employer, few can afford the high premiums to keep their health policy in effect. And, many employers are feeling the economic pinch and cutting employee benefits, leaving many uninsured or underinsured.

While state and federal legislators battle about healthcare reform and the need to make sure all of us have access to healthcare, the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey estimates 47 million Americans were uninsured at the 2008 census. And, depending on whom you ask, that number could be much higher. What's worse is that these figures don't touch on those who find themselves underinsured. Even with health insurance, huge deductibles, copayments and limited mental health coverage can leave many people unable to afford needed medical treatments.

If you're uninsured or underinsured, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contracts with medical providers across the United States to provide free, or nearly free, healthcare services. This includes treatment for mental health. Fees for services are based on a sliding scale, according to one's ability to pay. Community health centers are located in both well-populated cities as well as rural areas. You can search online for a center near you on the HRSA website.

If you are struggling to cover your medication costs, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance may be able to assist you in applying for public and private patient assistance programs, including those offered by pharmaceutical companies. If you qualify, your medications will be free or nearly free. The process of applying for patient assistance programs is relatively easy. The application is usually brief, and your physician will need to complete a simple form. Once processed, your medications will be shipped to your home or physician's office.

Photo Don Farrall / Getty Images

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