There are numerous circumstances in which people may be able to access a free ultrasound, depending on the region where they live. If a doctor recommends an ultrasound imaging study and a patient cannot afford it, he or she should certainly ask about free or low cost options before opting out of the imaging study altogether. Many nations have programs which are designed to help low income individuals access the medical care they need, and in some communities, additional services may be made available.
For people who live in countries with nationalized single payer health plans, as is the case in much of Europe, ultrasound imaging is usually covered by the national health program. When a doctor orders an ultrasound study, the patient can bring the request to a clinic which handles ultrasounds, or the doctor may perform the imaging study in his or her office. Because ultrasound imaging is usually deemed medically necessary, patients should have no trouble obtaining an ultrasound under their national health coverage.
In regions where people do not have access to a nationalized health plan, there are several options for free ultrasound. Government programs which provide health insurance to people of low income will often cover medically necessary ultrasound examinations, such as obstetrical ultrasound for pregnant women. Pregnant women who are not eligible for these programs may be able to obtain a free ultrasound from a pregnancy center or clinic if they can prove that they have limited abilities to pay.
Private insurance companies will generally pay for ultrasound studies when they are ordered. While not technically “free,” because of the cost involved in maintaining a private insurance plan, the patient is usually not charged directly for ultrasound imaging when it can be billed to an insurance company. In the event that an insurance company denies payment, patients can appeal the denial and demand that the insurance company cover the ultrasound, as long as it was deemed medically necessary. Having health insurance is highly advised, as it can cut down on health care costs significantly.
Several regions also have special health care programs for particular conditions, funded by grants and assistance from the government. Someone with a chronic illness which requires periodic ultrasound imaging studies for monitoring may be able to obtain assistance through such a program, as can pregnant women. Information about programs which offer free ultrasound and other medical services to people in need can often be obtained from social workers and doctors. Some of these programs run roving free ultrasound and medical exam programs, usually using a truck or trailer to provide medical services in rural areas or in regions where people have trouble obtaining health care.