Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today

AARP The Magazine

Medical Care You Can Afford

4 ways to find good health care when you're uninsured

3. Hire a negotiator

Medical-billing advocates liken a fat medical bill to a car's sticker price. "It's just the starting point for negotiation," says Nick Newsad, senior associate at HealthCare Appraisers Inc. and author of The Medical Bill Survival Guide.

Medical-care advocates help consumers deal with insurers, shop around for care, haggle with providers and fight hospital billing errors. Most work on an hourly or contingency basis, charging a 15 to 50 percent commission on the saved amount. Hiring an advocate can be pricey (to find one, search online for a health care advocate or health care appraiser in your area), but it might stave off disaster if uninsured costs balloon out of control.

4. Visit a health fair

Each April, Rory Turner, 59, attends the Cleveland Clinic's Minority Men's Health Fair to get information on administering and monitoring his insulin. In churches, malls and corporate offices around the country, such health-fair events bring volunteer medical professionals to people who could not afford them otherwise. Most are sponsored by hospitals, university medical centers and corporations. (Search "health fairs" to find one near you.)

Physicians stress that health fairs are not meant to replace regular doctor visits. But the free screenings — for blood pressure, cholesterol, glaucoma, bone density and body-fat measurement — can help underserved patients connect with the health care system. In doing so, they also "educate and prevent and identify disease early," says Carrie Maffeo, director of the Health Education Center at Butler University's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Indianapolis. The center has hosted more than 600 free screenings for chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

No, a yearly free screening or a flu shot isn't an alternative to full medical coverage. But for the millions who lack health insurance, even a little help can make a lifesaving difference.

Sign up for the Daily News Alert: Top content from health and money to politics and entertainment

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.