What health care is available if you are homeless?

Accessing necessary healthcare is just one of the many challenges you will face if you don’t have a home, but options are available to ensure you get the care you need.

First, understand that you are not alone: ​​More than half a million people in the US do not have access to reliable housing. Whether you’re experiencing this for the first time or it’s a situation you’ve encountered before, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where and how to get medical treatment.

For many, the solution is a visit to their local emergency room. Out-of-home patients are three times more likely to visit the ER than other Americans, and the use of ERs by people who are homeless has increased by 80% in the past decade.

There are also community health centers. Medicaid and Medicare also play a role.

Your living situation should not prevent you from receiving primary care. It is important to have a primary care physician no matter where you live so that you can get vaccines, screenings for cancer and other conditions, and disease management.

Beyond the first aid

Emergency care is not the only place where you can get care. The federal government funds health care projects for the homeless in every state and serves more than 1 million people each year. In addition to primary care and mental health care, these centers have also provided testing and vaccinations for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

“Healthcare for homeless centers is an essential safety net for this population,” said Anna Bailey, JD, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “They specialize in helping people who are homeless, and they really understand all the challenges. In addition to providing clinical services, many of them also provide behavioral health care, and they typically work closely with homeless people in their communities.”

Homeless health care centers receive special federal funding specifically for the treatment of people who have no housing. These centers are part of a larger network of clinics, including Community Health Centers and Migrant Health Centers, all of which operate in and for disadvantaged communities.

These centers provide emergency health care, treatment of chronic conditions, mental health care and preventive care on a sliding scale. Those with incomes below the poverty line ($12,800 for a person) don’t have to pay anything for their care.

You can get information on where to find such health centers from any organization that serves the homeless or by using this tool from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Some communities also have mobile health centers that provide treatment to people living on the streets or in shelters.

Make an insurance contract

Having insurance can make it much easier to access healthcare. For people who are homeless, Medicaid – the state-run insurance program for low-income people – is the best way to get insurance.

“Many low-income, underserved people feel that emergency care is the only place they can go because they don’t have the resources to go elsewhere,” said Craig Kennedy, president and CEO of Medicaid Health Plans of America. “The point of Medicaid is to say, ‘You’re insured. You may not have the money in your pocket to pay for a doctor’s visit, but please go see the doctor.”

Medicaid facilities can provide services beyond those in many community health centers. Such services typically include surgery, skilled nursing, and some behavioral health treatments.

You don’t need a permanent address to get a Medicaid policy. But you must take out insurance through the state where you live. If you move to another state, you must get Medicaid out of that state, although coverage will transfer from one state to another for short visits.

Community health centers can help you enroll in Medicaid if you are homeless. Or you can apply online through the Health Insurance Marketplace or your national Medicaid agency. Find the contact details of that agency here.

Community clinics and city public hospitals provide primary care (preventive care) to the homeless and others without insurance. There are social workers at these facilities who can help you fill out Medicaid and/or Medicare applications.

“We really want people to go to those facilities and enroll in Medicaid and have that insurance that allows them to have a regular source of care,” Kennedy says.

Find housing

Many of the medical problems that affect people without housing reflect broader problems caused by homelessness, Bailey says. In addition to higher rates of illness, people who are homeless die on average 12 years earlier than Americans with adequate housing. Without housing, there are often daily crises and challenges that make it much more difficult to deal with chronic conditions.

“There is much that can and should be done to try to meet the urgent health care needs of people who are homeless,” Bailey says, “but none of it is a replacement for housing, to ensure that people have a strategy for meeting their needs.” basic needs and begin to prioritize their health.”

This post What health care is available if you are homeless?

was original published at “https://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/features/health-care-for-people-experiencing-homelessness?src=RSS_PUBLIC”