How to Pay for Health Care
Payment can be a barrier to care, but there are often free or low-cost options. Some of the options are discussed below, but most clinics have financial counselors that can help you think through payment.
Cash and Sliding Scales
Many community-based health care providers in New York offer services for free or at a low cost. You should check with the provider to see if it’s possible to pay in cash. Providers often utilize a sliding scale based on your income to determine how much you will need to pay.
If you are using your parents’ private insurance, such as Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Cigna, for example, always double check with the provider to see how you can pay for the services and whether or not the bill will be sent to their house. The bill may be inadvertently sent to your parents, so proceed with caution.
Medicaid is a health insurance program that is run by the federal government. Whether or not you are able to get Medicaid depends on your income (how much money you make). Usually your parent or guardian would enroll you in Medicaid. However, some young people may be able to apply on their own. You can determine your eligibility status by going to www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov or call 1-855-355-5777.
Undocumented people are eligible for Medicaid.
If you received medical services as part of Medicaid, those services have special confidentiality protections. This depends, however, on whether or not you enrolled on your own or under your parents’ Medicaid. If you’re using your parents’ Medicaid, your information may not be confidential, especially when bills, lab results, or statements get sent home. If you are receiving services under your parents’ Medicaid, you should always ask your doctor what the policy is when sending documents home or to you.
To protect your right to confidentiality, young people who apply for Medicaid should specify a mailing address that is not their parent or guardians’ address. This will help you avoid a confidentiality breach.
If you consented on your own to health care services using Medicaid and want to make sure those services stay confidential, you should let Medicaid know that they should not share any of your health record. Medicaid can’t protect discrete parts of your health record, so it’s important you ask them not to share any of it.
Child Health Plus
New York’s Child Health Plus (CHP) is a health insurance program that is run by New York State. It is for people 18 and younger. A young person can apply for Child Health Plus no matter what their immigration status is.
CHP is also based on your income (how much money you make). Like Medicaid, young people usually need a parent or guardian to enroll in CHP. However, if you are pregnant or a parent you can apply to Child Health Plus on your own for yourself and your children. Also, married and otherwise emancipated young people may also be able to enroll themselves. It would be best to apply in-person.