Medical and Psychological Aid

Where to get medical and psychological help with or without health insurance

If You Have Health Insurance

Schedule an appointment with a doctor in your health plan. You can find a doctor in your health plan via your health plan’s website (Find a Provider/Find Care section) or by calling member services phone number on your health insurance card. Call the doctor’s office to schedule an appointment. If the dates the office offers you are too far in the future, pick the first available date and ask the office to put you on a wait list – that way, if someone cancels their appointment, yours will be moved up.

If you need an interpreter at the appointment, request it when scheduling the appointment. The clinic will provide an over-the-phone interpreter – all clinics are required to do so by law.

If you have an HMO insurance plan, you need to obtain a referral from your Primary Care Physician (PCP) in order to see a specialist. Most Medicaid plans also require PCP referrals for procedures and specialist visits. See Health Insurance page for more information.

If you need to see a doctor urgently, go to an urgent care clinic within your health plan. You can find the closest urgent care in your plan on the plan’s website or by calling member services. Urgent care clinics are open late and during weekends and do not require an appointment.

If you have a life-threatening emergency, go to the closest emergency room (ER). ER is open 24/7. ER visits are covered by any mainstream health insurance plan.

If You Do Not Have Health Insurance

You can visit a doctor at a free clinic or community clinic. Free clinics can be found via websites, and To find a community clinic, google “community clinic near me.” Community clinics charge for services on a sliding scale – depending on the household income. They also accept “straight” Medicaid – that is generic Medicaid insurance, before you have chosen a particular plan. Some community clinics have urgent care clinics and dental services.

Overview of community clinics
If you want to see a particular specialist without health insurance, call their office and ask how much they charge if a patient pays out of pocket. Oftentimes, doctors charge patients who pay cash lower rates than they charge a health insurance.

If you have an emergency, go to the closet emergency room. If you have no income or very low income, your ER visit will be covered by emergency Medicaid – insurance coverage for emergencies available to all low-income U.S. residents (including to Ukrainians on humanitarian parole and TPS). Ask the hospital to fill out an application for Emergency Medicaid or fill it out at the social services office after your ER visit.

Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

Hospital emergency rooms (ER) are meant for life and limb-threatening health conditions. They are the best option when you have a truly serious medical condition, such that you fear for your life or are in a severe pain and need immediate treatment. 

An urgent care clinic is the middle ground between an ER and a routine doctor appointment. Urgent care treats non-life or limb-threatening conditions which you want addressed immediately rather than waiting for a doctor’s appointment.

If you need to see the doctor urgently, but do not experience a life-threatening emergency, go to urgent care, not an ER. ER staff triages patients by the seriousness of their symptoms, and if you do not exhibit life-threatening symptoms, you may end up waiting in the lobby for many hours before you are seen by the medical personnel. Moreover, ER does not perform diagnostic procedures like ultrasounds or MRI unless your symptoms are so serious that a diagnosis is needed immediately. If your vitals are normal, you will be sent home and ordered to make a regular doctor appointment for any procedure or diagnosis.

Comparison of urgent care and ER
Emergency RoomUrgent CareDoctor Visit
Does not require appointment

Accepts all health plans

Open 24/7
Does not require appointment

Accepts most health plans

Open through evenings and weekends
Requires appointment

Choose within your health plan

Open during work hours
Severe bleeding

Severe pain of unknown or life-threatening origin


Dangerous heart symptoms
Severe pain or discomfort of known and not life-threatening origin

Bone fractures

Urgent need for prescription meds
Mild pain or discomfort

Chronic conditions

Routine check-ups

If you experience a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 only if you or the person you are trying to help cannot get to the hospital on their own (e.g. the person is unconscious or experiencing a heart attack). ER rides are very expensive, so avoid them if you can drive to the hospital on your own or get there by Uber.

Prescription Medicine

Many types of medication available over the counter in Ukraine are sold only by prescription in the U.S.  In order to be able to buy those drugs, you have to visit your primary care provider or a specialist and have them write a U.S. prescription. If you do not have health insurance, you can get the prescription from a doctor at your local community clinic. If you have a Ukrainian or European prescription, you can ask a doctor to issue a prescription for the same medicine in the U.S. remotely using free telemedicine service for Ukrainians

The doctor will send the prescription to the pharmacy of your choice. If you have health insurance, check in advance of your visit which pharmacies near you accept your health plan and have an address of the preferred pharmacy handy for your doctor.

Many prescription drugs can be bought without health insurance at discounted rates with GoodRx coupons. Search for the medication you need on the website, pick the pharmacy with the lowest price, print the coupon for it and show it to the pharmacist.
American pharmacies
Some Ukrainian drug are banned in the U.S. for safety reasons or do not have local analogs.  Before going to the pains of obtaining a drug illegally or asking someone to bring it from Ukraine, try medicine a local doctor prescribes for your condition. U.S. drugs undergo rigorous clinical testing are often as effective (if not more effective) than Ukrainian drugs.

Specialty Drugs

If you take expensive or patented drugs, you will have to get them through a “specialty pharmacy” – a pharmacy that specializes on expensive medicine and medicine for rare diseases. Each health plan usually partners with one specialty pharmacy. Once your health insurance is approved, call your health plan and find out which specialty pharmacy can supply the drug you need under your insurance plan. Then ask your doctor to fax the prescription to this specialty pharmacy. Specialty drugs are mailed to you periodically – they are not sold in retail pharmacies.

If you have a serious health condition and require continuous medication, take a few months’ supply with you when travelling to the U.S. The process of applying for health insurance, scheduling a doctor appointment and having your insurance approve a prescription can take several weeks.  

Psychological Help

Any health insurance, including Medicaid, provides coverage of mental health services. If you are feeling suicidal or in danger of hurting yourself or others, go to the ER, a community health clinic or urgent care clinic to receive immediate psychiatric help and medication.

If you need a therapist, the following resources provide free or low-cost therapy in Ukrainian or Russian for Ukrainians affected by war:

If you Received a Bill You Cannot Afford

In the U.S., a clinic or a hospital provides you services first and sends you the bill later. Medical bills – especially for hospital or emergency services – can be in tens of thousands of dollars. If you do not have health insurance and receive a bill you cannot afford, you have a few options:

Retroactive or Emergency Medicaid coverage

If you are low-income, you may qualify for government health insurance Medicaid. Even if you did not have Medicaid at the time the medical service was provided, if you later apply and are approved for Medicaid, it will cover up to three months of prior medical expenses. Request retroactive coverage in your Medicaid application and submit your bill to Medicaid as soon as the insurance application is approved.

Even if you do not qualify for full-scope Medicaid, by age, family or immigration status, you qualify for emergency Medicaid as long as you are low-income. Emergency Medicaid covers ER visits and unforeseen hospitalizations. You can fill out an application at the social services office after the medical service was provided.

Emergency Medicaid overview

Installment payments

If you do not qualify for full-scope or emergency Medicaid and cannot pay the bill, call the hospital billing department using the number provided on the bill, explain your situation and ask the hospital to allow you to pay the bill in monthly installments. Ask the billing department if they have any discount programs for people without health insurance.

Payment through charities

Ask the hospital billing department if they work with any charities that help people without health insurance pay the bills. If he hospital cannot advise of any charities, google charities in your region that help with that or inquire at your closest refugee resettlement agencies.

Do not ignore the bill or let it be sent to collections! This debt will negatively affect your credit score and will make it extremely difficult for you to rent housing, lease or finance cars and other large purchases, or acquire credit cards in the future.