Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Preventative Health Care for the Uninsured

What do folks without health insurance do for preventative health care in Eugene, Oregon?

The first step is to apply for Bridge Assistance with the local hospital and medical group PeaceHealth.  This provides a lot of free or discounted health services for up to one year.  So a healthy adult who is not behind in immunizations, blood work, etc. might want to wait until those are again "due" before applying, but should not wait until the last minute because the application turn-around time is about six weeks.

There are several physicians who have special billing plans for uninsured patients.  The most affordable is Dr. Steven Butdorf, who charges $20 per half-hour office visit plus a small monthly fee based upon patient age.

Other physicians include Dr. Justin Montoya and Dr. David Bove, who both prefer to do a lengthy new-patient appointment and thus charge a a higher initial cost (about $250).  That is a sensible approach to starting the doctor-patient relationship if you can afford it.

Oregon Medical Labs offers a discount if a patient pays in cash.  If possible, make those arrangements up front before the labwork is done.  A very complete set of labwork for an annual physical ends up costing about $100.

For children, more is available through Oregon Healthy Kids.  That was the state's first phase of universal health care, done very sensibly before the national effort at universal health care.

Finally, there is Medicaid, which in Oregon is the Oregon Health Plan.  Locally this looks like the Community Health Centers of Lane County, which offers very affordable care to uninsured patients.  For those who are eligible this can be invaluable, but the existence of those other resources hints that Medicaid is often not a complete solution to medical care for the uninsured.

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