Health care is an essential need for every family and individual to lead a healthier life. Health care services can be pricey and it is good to know what programs and options there are for free and low-cost healthcare. There are several federally-funded programs that individuals can apply for. By law, citizens should obtain health insurance to avoid penalties, however for some this is not possible. Community health centers offer low-cost services for needy families. CHIP helps needy families with children obtain proper healthcare. Medicaid is for low-income families and individuals and is a health insurance provider. Learn more about finding free and low-cost healthcare options in the following sections:

  • Medicaid and CHIP
  • Obamacare
  • Community Health Centers

Medicaid and CHIP

Medicaid is health insurance for low-income families and children. Medicaid also assists the elderly, people with disabilities, and pregnant women. Medicaid has programs that will pay for services directly and other programs that will use private insurance companies to pay for care. Each Medicaid program must follow federal guidelines but each state can establish other Medicaid guidelines like costs of services and plan coverage.

Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers health coverage for children whose families are ineligible for Medicaid due to higher incomes. CHIP benefits cover doctor visits, prescriptions, routine check-ups, dental, and vision needs. Emergency services, hospital care, and laboratory services are also covered for children enrolled in CHIP. These services must be provided by law. Some services may require a copayment but most are covered under CHIP benefits.


Obamacare is a federal program which aims to provide health insurance for as many citizens as possible. Coverage includes essential health benefits like emergency services, hospitalization, prescription drugs, preventative care, and pediatric services. Plans are not required to offer dental and vision.
Plans can be found online and are offered at low-costs or for free depending on family size and income. The online marketplace offers subsidiaries for qualified individuals. Under the Affordable Care Act, everyone is required to sign up for health insurance or they will need to pay a penalty. There are exceptions for the yearly penalty.

Community Health Centers

If a needy petitioner does not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, the best option is to find a local community health center. These centers will provide low-cost care depending on your income. Petitioners will have access to pre-natal care, baby shots and primary care. You can also receive referrals for specialized care like substance abuse and mental health treatment. Some clinics offer certain services for free while others are at a discounted rate. Community health centers will ask for financial information to determine discounts and payment options.

Health centers do not offer health insurance and are staffed with certified medical providers. Low-cost healthcare in these centers is contingent on incomes and is a viable alternative for families who do not qualify for government health insurance assistance and do not currently have health insurance.