Getting treatment for non-emergency medical problem without insurance
August 17, 2010 5:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm 28 and I recently found out I most likely have a serious condition I need treatment for. It will almost certainly involve a urologist and possible (minor) surgery (probably in-office). I have no health insurance, make about 40k a year, but have very little discretionary income. How do I go about this?

I'm almost positive I suffer from Phimosis (A disorder involving the foreskin), and really, really, really want to get it taken care of. I know you should never diagnose yourself, but I match all symptoms note-for-note.

This is a non-emergency, but very serious situation and I have no idea how to proceed because I simply make too much money, even though I'm by no means "rich".

I don't have a GP or any medical contacts. I haven't been to an MD since high school (I know how dumb this is).
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

can you get insurance now? is there something stopping you from getting independent insurance?
posted by curiositykilledthelemur at 5:09 PM on August 17, 2010

Is there a medical school nearby? Their clinics can be great and inexpensive.
posted by mareli at 5:09 PM on August 17, 2010

can you get insurance now? is there something stopping you from getting independent insurance?

This may or may not be viable depending on the insurance, pre-existing condition regulation in your state, and whether you've already received any medical care related to this issue. Some states can only exclude pre-existing conditions for a couple months, some for longer; sometimes a pre-existing condition is only counted if you actually received medical care for it prior to becoming insured, sometimes there are broader criteria. I don't think anyone can tell you whether it's possible to buy insurance now and have this covered without knowing what state you're in (assuming you're in the US).

Have you called the offices of any urologists to explain your lack of coverage and to try to get a sense of how much this will cost? It's possible that an in-office surgery will be worth paying for out of pocket.
posted by enn at 5:15 PM on August 17, 2010

Talk to the doctor / billing dept. about a potential discount for cash payment. Ask if they'll set up a payment plan so that you can afford treatment. I have yet to encounter a medical professional who isn't sympathetic to your situation and willing to help you in any way they can.
posted by corey flood at 5:26 PM on August 17, 2010

It would be helpful to know where you live. You must live in the United States, because anywhere else in the world you would have health care provided by the government. But within the US the resources available to you right now will vary greatly from state to state, and even within regions of a state.

You can provide this follow-up information anonymously by using the contact form at the bottom of the page and asking one of the moderators to post it for you.
posted by alms at 5:39 PM on August 17, 2010

The advice about calling a medical school clinic is sound. If there is a medical school or a major academic medical center near you (look for "university name" medical center) call their urology department and ask if they have a clinic.

My younger brother was in a desperate situation, and received good care at an ortho clinic of an academic medical center. You'll be seeing medical residents at a clinic like this, but they are full-fledged MDs and can give great care.

If you don't live near an academic medical center, call your local hospital to get the names of urologists in your area and call them. You may have to explain your situation to the receptionist and an office manager, but don't let that deter you.
posted by jeoc at 5:41 PM on August 17, 2010

Not your doctor, but my past experience with phimosis was relatively cheap: simply tugging on the foreskin every day after bathing the skin/glans barrier in a steroid solution. Took weeks to complete the process (you only want to expose a little bit every time to leave time to the skin to heal), but it was braindead cheap (1 GP appointment + 1 steroid solution) and relatively painless.
posted by knz at 1:27 AM on August 18, 2010

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