Being self-employed artists for nearly a decade, my husband and I know what it means to go without health insurance and health care. We practice preventative medicine such as exercising, eating healthy foods and taking vitamins, and we are both relatively healthy. Fortunately for us and many others like us, when we have had health-related problems, we are residents of Portland, Oregon. In Portland there exists a wealth of medical resources for low income families, from dentistry to chiropractics to alternative medicines. One such resource is The Coalition of Community Health Clinics, a group of 13 clinics that offer quality health care to Portland residents who are uninsured, underinsured and who would otherwise have no access to health care or necessary treatments. Most of the clinics bill patients on a sliding scale based on household income and many offer free emergency services for those who cannot afford to pay for medical care.
Here are just a few of the affordable options available to those who do not currently have health insurance or are underinsured:
The West Burnside Chiropractic Clinic is a teaching clinic of the Western States Chiropractic College, located in downtown Portland. They care for people with both acute and chronic musculoskeletal (back/neck) pain and the services are free or by donation. I discovered WBCC in 2005, while suffering from a herniated disc in my lower back. I was unable to sit for almost 6 months, and received treatment each week of that 6 months without charge. I continued to go for maintenance and flare-ups for the next few years. In 2008 I was back again with debilitating low back pain and, again, I received excellent care. This time, I was back to my old self within 6 weeks.
OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond is also a teaching clinic and is located in SE Portland. This clinic provides general medical services as well as chiropractic and acupuncture. Office visits for qualifying patients cost $25. Compare that to $120, which is what I paid the last time I took my child to a pediatrician for an ear infection!
The Outside In Medical Clinic, also located downtown, focuses mainly on Portland’s homeless youth and adults, as well as other low-income patients. They provide social, medical and mental health services, and a variety of disciplines including western, Chinese and naturopathic. They charge a $10 minimum sliding scale fee per visit.