Free and Low-Cost Help for Addiction

July 25, 2013

If you or someone you love are battling a drug or alcohol addiction, you are not alone.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are roughly 20 million Americans currently suffering from behavioral or addictive disorders. Of these people, less than 10 percent are actively in treatment.

When dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction, the road is never easy—especially if you’re concerned about costs. For those who have health insurance, many health insurance plans offer drug and alcohol treatment provisions, but coverage and details vary from one insurance company and policy to the next. If you have health insurance, you need to be informed about what is and is not covered under your specific plan.  But what about people who don’t have health insurance? Luckily, there are many state- and privately-funded organizations dedicated to helping people overcome their fight with addiction. Read on to find out more about resources and other free and low-cost places and organizations that you or a loved one can turn to for support and help regarding recovery.

Resources from The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD):

  • NCADD: Get Help—Learn how seeking help is not only the first step, but the most important step.
  • If you are looking for help or information but don’t know where to turn locally, use the NCADD affiliate finder.
  • The NCADD also has a lot of information about both confronting and coping with drug and alcohol addictions.

Support groups:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous–For alcoholics and recovering alcoholics who are seeking support. Includes a meeting finder to locate AA meetings in your area.
  • Al-Anon and Alateen–For those whose lives have been affected by a loved one’s alcoholism.  Learn what to expect at your first meeting, and find meetings in your area.
  • Narcotics Anonymous–For those who are addicted to narcotics.  Includes a meeting finder as well as links to recovery literature.

Other places to turn for help:

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse–includes resources for people in recovery, parents, and youths, plus news articles regarding addiction and recovery.
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism–includes articles about how alcohol affects your health, how alcohol affects teens, college drinking prevention, and more.
  • Your employer—ask your Human Resources team if you have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through your company.  If so, you may be able to receive telephonic counseling that can help you with addiction-related issues.

For more free and low-cost health resources, visit  Also, check with your employer to see if your employee benefits package includes an advocacy service such as Health Advocate (if not, you can check out Health Advocate’s consumer division, Health Proponent).  An advocacy service can help connect you to medical providers, such as primary care physicians or mental health specialists, who can help with addiction-related issues.


Finding Transportation for Long-Distance Medical Care

July 16, 2013

If you or someone you love is seriously ill and needs to be transported to a medical center for treatment that’s not close by, what are your options? There are several organizations that offer free or low-cost travel for patients, through charitable donations such as:

  • Angel Flight West arranges free, non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions and other compelling needs.  The organization consist of 1,600 pilots throughout 13 western states who donate their aircraft, piloting skills and all flying costs to help families in need.
  • Air Charity Network is an organization that provides access for people who are seeking no-cost air transportation to specialized healthcare facilities or distant destinations due to family, community, or national crises. Air Charity Network serves all 50 states and its volunteer pilots utilize their own aircraft, fuel and time to provide free air transportation to medical facilities for people who are financially distressed or otherwise unable to travel on public transportation.  
  • Corporate Angel Network helps cancer patients access the best possible treatment by arranging free travel to treatment across the country using empty seats on corporate jets. Eligibility to participate in the program is open to all cancer patients, bone marrow donors and bone marrow recipients who are ambulatory and not in need of medical support while traveling. Eligibility is not based on financial need, and patients may travel as often as necessary.  
  • Miracle Flights for Kids helps families overcome financial obstacles by flying their seriously ill children to receive proper medical care and to get second opinions.
  • Mercy Medical Airlift helps those in need of medical access transportation.
  • National Patient Travel Center provides information about all forms of charitable, long-distance medical transportation and provides referrals to all appropriate sources of help available in the national charitable medical transportation network. The purpose of the National Patient Travel Center is to ensure that no financially needy patient is denied access to distant specialized medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment simply because they lack a means of traveling long-distance.
  • The Volunteer Pilots Association (VPA) provides flights to people in need who must travel to receive necessary medical treatment. 

For more free and low-cost health resources, visit The Healthcare Survival Guide website.

The Benefits of Urgent Care

July 1, 2013

Say you’ve been stricken with a sore throat, sinus infection or earache—or you’ve sustained a minor burn or injury such as a sprained ankle.  Your primary care doctor isn’t able to fit you in right away, and your illness or injury isn’t severe enough for a trip to the emergency room.  So where can you go for medical assistance?  Consider visiting your local urgent care center.

What is urgent care?

Urgent care centers are walk-in clinics that provide patients with medical attention when they are unable to be seen by their primary care physicians or their condition is not serious enough to warrant a visit the ER. The medical staff at urgent care centers can treat a wide variety of health issues, such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, cuts or wounds, and eye or ear ailments.  Some urgent care centers can also provide immunizations and medical services needed for travel and immigration purposes.  Many urgent care centers can also perform simple laboratory work ( like blood tests) and X-rays.

The many benefits of urgent care centers include:

Cost-effectiveness. Many insurance companies cover trips to urgent care centers, but before visiting one, it’s a good idea to check with your insurance company to find out which specific centers are in- network. According to, the cost for treatment at an urgent care center is usually comparable to that of a primary care visit, and generally costs less than a trip to the emergency room. (Charges vary according to individual insurance coverage.)

Comprehensive care. The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine describes urgent care medicine as having components of both family medicine and emergency medicine. Because of this, the doctors at urgent care centers tend to have comprehensive knowledge, which allows them to address a wide array of medical issues.

Extended hours. Urgent care centers often have extended hours. For example, many of them are open past 5pm on weekdays, which can make them a more convenient option for someone who works a traditional 9-to-5 schedule.  These centers are often open on weekends as well, making them an ideal place to go when you are facing a non-life-threatening ailment but require medical attention.

Less wait time. Urgent care centers do not require you to schedule an appointment—they’ll happily accept walk-ins. Plus, time spent in urgent care center waiting rooms can be hours less  compared to the wait time at an ER.

Out-of-town help.  Traveling for business or pleasure means you’re probably not near your primary care doctor.  If you fall ill while you’re on a trip, finding an urgent care center is a good way to ensure that you get treatment even when you’re away from home. notes that in the United States, the number of urgent care centers increases by about 300 each year, and that there are already 9,000 urgent care centers nationwide. You have plenty of urgent care centers to choose from, with more on the way!

For more information about urgent care centers…