211 info has published a great article on local insurance options:

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Yes, the Uninsured Can Get Care,” Kristen Gerencher outlined health care options for the uninsured:

Lack of insurance doesn’t have to mean going without needed health care.

If you’re uninsured and seeking stop-gap care until you find coverage, you can triage your way to better health by understanding the tradeoffs of several care options.

With hundreds of thousands of people in Oregon and Southwest Washington left uninsured, we provide solutions to people seeking health care every day. It is a problem that is affecting everyone in our communities, not just those with extremely-low income. So, we thought we’d be proactive and suggest some local solutions to the issue the WSJ addressed — getting health care without having insurance. For phone numbers, addresses and more information about these services you can visit 211info.org a search your zip code and services under the “CLINIC” and “HEALTH” keywords or call 2-1-1.

The Oregon Health Plan is available for children, and some adults are being added through a lottery system. To apply, visit a DHS office or call 1-800-359-9517. Call 1-800-SAFENET to find out the address of the nearest DHS office.

Here’s a look at the types of health care available for uninsured people in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

  • Community health clinics: Sometimes called “free clinics,” these typically operate on a sliding-scale fee system based on patients’ income. Some will treat patients who are unable to pay even the sliding-scale fee. These nonprofits serve low-income uninsured people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and frequently offer other services such as immunizations. Some are specialized for specific populations, such as women or members of federally recognized Native American tribes. Many clinics have very limited hours and long wait lists for appointments. Some have walk-in services.
  • Retail clinics: These clinics, often operated by hospitals or pharmacy chains, offer walk-in visits with nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants. Prices for a visit are posted and generally are less than $100. The clinics often are open on nights and weekends. Providers can diagnose routine ailments such as flu or strep throat and prescribe medications as needed. The clinics generally don’t have doctors, diagnostic equipment such as X-rays or labs on site.
  • Urgent care centers:  Doctors provide treatment for infections, injuries, back aches and simple fractures. Prices are generally higher than those at retail clinics but may be less than $200. For example, the 211info database shows one urgent care clinic that posts its price as $55, with prescriptions and lab work costing extra. The centers often are open on nights and weekends. Doctors can stitch wounds, set broken bones, prescribe medicine for infections and treat other mid-level conditions.
  • Emergency rooms:  The most expensive option often requires long wait times for people with non-emergency conditions. Doctors have access to extensive diagnostic equipment, and people with serious conditions are often admitted to hospitals. Emergency rooms are open 24/7. People who are uninsured and low income can often request financial assistance or charity care if they need to be hospitalized.

If someone you know does not have access to the internet they can call 2-1-1 Monday-Friday 8am-6pm for answers to their health care questions.

Contributing Author: Deborah Willoughby, Call Center Specialist