When you lack health insurance and need to schedule an appointment with a medical professional, you’ll have to pay for the visit out of pocket. In some cases, that idea is daunting. After all, health care is known for being expensive, particularly if you’re uninsured. By understanding how much the appointment may cost, you have a chance to financially prepare. If you’re wondering, “How much is a doctor’s visit without insurance?” here’s what you need to know.
How Much a Doctor’s Visit Is Without Insurance
Typically, the cost of a doctor’s visit if you don’t have insurance is anywhere from $150 to $600. However, there are a variety of factors that can ultimately impact how much you’ll owe. Patients can pay less or more than what’s outlined in the range above. As a result, it’s critical to understand the factors that may influence the cost, as well as how you can get a more accurate figure before you visit a medical professional.
Factors That Impact the Cost of a Doctor’s Visit
Multiple factors ultimately impact how much a visit to a doctor costs, including:
- The type of physician you see (primary care, specialist, emergency, etc.)
- The facility you use (clinic, hospital, emergency room, urgent care, community health, etc.)
- The type of care sought
- Whether in-office treatments are administered
- Whether tests are ordered
In some cases, the price may vary depending on whether you’re a new or returning patient. If you’ve never been to that facility before or haven’t seen a specialist in a specific department previously, you may have to pay a “new patient intake” fee.
Generally, new patient fees are designed to account for the fact that seeing someone who hasn’t visited previously takes more time, as they often have to dedicate more time to learning about your medical history. If you’re a returning patient, your medical history is already on file, which can theoretically shorten the appointment.
How to Get an Accurate Estimate
If you’re scheduling an appointment and not seeking emergency care due to an urgent health matter, you can often get a reasonably accurate estimate of the cost of the visit in advance. Hospitals are required to list price ranges for common appointments, procedures, tests, and treatments online, and many smaller clinics are choosing to do the same. As a result, an online search may be enough to help you determine how much you’ll spend.
Additionally, patients can request a “Good Faith Estimate” for an upcoming appointment. With that, the healthcare provider creates an outline of the anticipated cost of the visit. While they might not be 100 percent accurate, as your appointment may end up involving something unexpected, it gives you a reasonable picture of the cost.
Ways to Reduce the Cost of a Doctor’s Visit When You’re Uninsured
If you need to see a doctor and don’t have insurance, there are ways to help minimize the costs. First, community health centers may make accessing free or low-cost services simpler. These typically work well for preventative or routine care and health screenings.
For acute medical needs, consider heading to an urgent care clinic instead of an emergency room. Urgent care clinics often accept walk-ins, and they usually cost significantly less than if you saw a physician in the emergency room.
Another option is to explore telemedicine services. This might work if your health condition is easy to explain and tests or a physical exam aren’t necessary.
If you live near a medical school, you may have access to a lower-cost clinic there. These clinics help student doctors gain experience, but they’re overseen by licensed physicians. Still, since the bulk of your appointment is handled by a student, the price is typically lower.
You can also ask about self-pay discounts, as some facilities do offer them. Additionally, you may be able to get a discount if you can pay the full cost of the appointment all at once in cash, particularly if you’re visiting a hospital instead of a smaller clinic.
Finally, consider going to public hospitals instead of private ones. Public hospitals are typically more affordable by comparison. Plus, you may be able to access a charity care program through a public hospital. Most charity care is made available to patients who have a household income level below a specific threshold. As a result, it can reduce the out-of-pocket cost of care for lower-income patients.
Are you surprised at how much a doctor’s visit is without insurance? Do you think the cost of an appointment for the uninsured is problematic, or do you think it makes sense? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald is a U.S. Army veteran with 20 years of service, including five years as a military financial advisor. After retiring from the Army, she spent eight years as an AFCPE-certified personal financial advisor for wounded warriors and their families. Now she writes about personal finance and benefits programs for numerous financial websites.