Where to Get Help When You Can’t Afford to See a Doctor
By Candida Fink, MD
July 30, 2010

Bipolar disorder affects not only your health and well being – it can also negatively affect your personal finances. In the U.S. right now, job loss typically equates with the eventual loss of insurance and no income to pay out of pocket for treatment. So where can you turn for help when you can’t afford to see a doctor or purchase the medications that doctor eventually prescribes?

Check to see if your county has a health department (I believe that most do or can refer you to a neighboring county that does). As we explain in Bipolar Disorder for Dummies, a doctor will need to do a thorough evaluation to rule out other possibilities, such as thyroid problems or other medical or psychiatric disorders, that could cause similar symptoms.

In our book, we also point out other free or low-cost care options, including the following:
  • State or local Mental Health America affiliate: call 1-800-969-6642 or search the directory at www.nmha.org/go/searchMHA
  • Community mental health clinic
  • University programs – check with any state universities in your area
  • Religious organizations – if you belong to a church, contact your minister
  • State medical assistance
  • Look up the Social Security office in your area and see if they can do anything for you
  • Your child may qualify for free or low-cost insurance, too – visit www.insurekidsnow.gov for details
  • If you have a local NAMI or DBSA group in your area, they can also offer you support and redirect you to state & local resources.
If you have a close friend or family member who can help you navigate these resources, enlist their assistance. Tracking down assistance and then jumping through hoops to get what you need can be very difficult and stressful in and of itself. If possible, it helps to have someone who can share the burden.

If you’re having trouble paying for prescription medications, check out our post Can’t Afford Your Bipolar Medications?.