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How can I get Cheap Healthcare?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Cheap healthcare can be difficult to find, though in some countries this is not an issue. Countries with government health or socialized medicine tend to offer care to people for many health needs, regardless of ability to pay. In areas where socialized medicine does not exist, there are a few things to do to help reduce cost of healthcare.

In the US, people of a certain income may qualify for Medicaid. This allows people to get most healthcare for free. Other programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) help working families of certain incomes insure their children for very low costs. People can also look to free or sliding scale fee clinics or hospitals to get cheap healthcare, though access to these may be limited by availability, income, and location.

Some people look to get cheap healthcare by purchasing low-cost insurance. Certain types of insurance, especially catastrophic insurance, would help cover extreme circumstances. Others buy medical insurance with high deductibles. This helps to reduce cost of payments, but it won’t exactly make health care inexpensive. Most healthcare costs aren’t covered by catastrophic or high deductible insurance because they are under deductible or catastrophic limits.

Another form of insurance people may take to get cheap healthcare is participation in HMO (health maintenance organization) plans. HMOs limit the doctors and providers available, but some of the plans have a large number of choices. Greater choice may mean insurance payments are higher, and if the insurance is not purchased through an employer, these payments aren’t cheap. What can be cheaper is the amount paid when people visit a doctor or need medical care.

When people are uninsured and need cheap healthcare for elective surgeries, they may decide to have surgery preformed in another country. The high cost of healthcare in places like the US has created a booming “medical tourism” industry. People may have hip replacements in India or plastic surgery in Mexico. There are many reputable hospitals outside of the US that can offer cheap healthcare, especially as compared to prices in the US. Decision to travel for healthcare should be weighed against potential risks of cheap healthcare elsewhere.

An alternate method is to negotiate with doctors and hospitals for discounted healthcare. Sometimes uninsured people pay more than do insurance companies for the same procedures because they do not benefit from the lower costs that insurance companies negotiate with doctors. People may be able to make arrangements for lower cost services with healthcare providers, though this wouldn’t be of much help in a healthcare emergency. It can also help to shop around and get full quotes from physicians or facilities to see which is least expensive.

Other people participate in health discount insurance or programs. This means they get discounted costs when visiting certain doctors or medical facilities. Prescription drug plans can also help discount drugs and aren't typically very expensive.

Despite some access to cheap healthcare, truly affordable healthcare may be out of the reach of many people. This continues to be a significant issue. Even when healthcare is “cheap,” it may still be more expensive that many people can afford. Unfortunately, the health care crisis in places like the US has created financial ruin for a number of people who could not afford insurance or costs of healthcare when they needed it.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon237757 — On Dec 31, 2011

I use this thing called dialdoctors; it's pretty cool, I call them up when I don't feel well and give them my symptoms. It's not as good as real insurance, but it's way better than nothing.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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