Submitted by Health Karma, January 2022
Needing and getting medical care is often a stressful process. For people who are uninsured, it’s even more so.
Unfortunately, this is a reality for millions of people living in the United States, especially in the Hispanic community, among whom the probability of being uninsured is highest. According to the 2018 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 23% of Hispanic adults aged 18 to 64 were uninsured, which makes affording and navigating healthcare difficult and overwhelming.
A few of the primary barriers to health insurance for all people and households tend to remain the same. Many can’t afford the rising costs of health insurance. Some decide they can do without it — and frequently discover too late that that isn’t the case. And certain populations don’t qualify for public or private health coverage at all.
The Unique Disparity in Health Insurance by Immigration Status
One population at a significant disadvantage when it comes to health insurance is immigrants. Why? What makes it so hard for those with immigrant status to get healthcare in one of the wealthiest countries in the world? These communities face several barriers to health insurance.
The first involves work qualifications. Seniors who recently immigrated may not have worked in the country for long enough to receive public coverage options. Not only that, but under the Affordable Care Act, undocumented immigrants cannot apply for health insurance in the marketplace or for public benefits like Medicaid.
Another barrier involves a combination of fear and confusion. Navigating health insurance and healthcare is complex even for health professionals and experts, and uninsured immigrants who may not be familiar with the country’s healthcare system or regulations might find this unfamiliarity and complexity to be a roadblock. More than that, if they’re undocumented, they may believe that going to an urgent care facility or emergency room for medical help could lead to arrest or deportation.
As a result, immigrants often don’t get medical treatment soon enough or at all. This problem isn’t just an academic issue or hot topic to be debated by thought leaders on television. It’s a care crisis that needs to be addressed, and at Health Karma, we believe every single person should have the ability to receive the care they need whenever they need it.
Alternate Solutions: Healthcare Access for the Uninsured
Though it may seem like uninsured immigrants (and other uninsured individuals) across America have few choices, there are options. Below are several ways for those without health insurance to be seen by medical personnel quickly, simply, and affordably.
1. Invest in non-insurance programs.
Initiatives like direct primary care programs and the Health Karma Virtual Care Membership Plan don’t replace health insurance, but they do make it possible for uninsured people to receive a wide range of medical services.
These types of plans are not restricted based on resident status, making them ideal for all members of the immigrant population. Under the direct primary care framework, patients make modest payments to receive specific medical services throughout the year, such as routine wellness visits. Similarly, the Health Karma Virtual Primary Care solution provides quality primary care, along with virtual urgent care and virtual behavioral health consultations for a low monthly fee.
2. Find lower-cost medications.
Prescriptions make up one of the biggest out-of-pocket expenses for consumers. However, consumers can work with physicians and pharmacists to reduce medication costs. Many brand-name prescriptions have generic versions that are much cheaper but work the same way, for example, so health professionals can provide guidance about things like this to the uninsured.
Tools like Health KarmaRX can be useful for finding out which pharmacies charge the least for a particular medication and accessing saving coupons. On average, users of Health KarmaRX pay about 60% less than they would otherwise. Sometimes, the Health KarmaRX rate beats most health insurance copays.
3. Take advantage of discount programs.
Discount programs for dental, vision and other healthcare needs provide a great way to combat costs if you’re uninsured. With a dental discount program, you can save 20–50% on most dental procedures within a specific network of providers. There are similar solutions for other healthcare services like vision and hearing, which provide special discounts for eye exams, glasses, hearing aids, and other services.
With the Health Karma Virtual Care membership plan, you also get special discounts on dental, vision, hearing, vitamins and supplements, and medical equipment through trusted private providers.
In the end, what does it mean to be uninsured? For the millions of people living without the protection of healthcare coverage, it means living a life in which care is a privilege extended to only some, not right afford to everyone. We aim to change that.
Health Karma is dedicated to making healthcare more accessible for everyone. If you or a loved one is uninsured, visit us here to discover how you can receive high-quality healthcare benefits even without formal coverage.