Getting good health care can be tough for the uninsured. That, we don’t need to tell you. There are no statistics for Brooklyn alone (that we know of), but with all its artists, writers, freelancers and other like-minded non-9-to-5ers, we’re pretty sure the borough has more than its share of New York State’s roughly 2.5 million… medically-alone, let’s call them. You know—the ones limping around, trolling for black-market insulin or playing Craigslist Russian Roulette for spare amoxicillin. But what choices do we have for cheap medical care, short of taking a handsaw to every hang-nail? Luckily, quite a few, and they’re (mostly) right here in Kings County.
The New York City Free Clinic offers probably the city’s largest free health center at its Union Square location on East 16th Street (yes, Manhattan). But the clinic has comprehensive list of other free and low-cost medical facilities around the city, many of them here in Brooklyn. The list is even searchable by type of medical services offered and location. You can find everything from primary care and HIV screening to dental care and eye care for as low as $15. Here are some of the highlights to get you started:
Brooklyn Free Clinic, 613 Throop Ave., 347-920-8379
Cost: Free (you guessed it)
Services: Check-ups, maintenance, sick visits, preventive care, information on health programs, nutrition and medical conditions. Patients can get referrals for X-rays and specialists if needed, in addition to discounted prescriptions.
Who runs it: Mostly student volunteers associated with SUNY Downstate Medical Center, supervised by an attending physician.
Eligibility: Any uninsured person over 18
Hours: Tuesday: 5:30 p.m. until the last patient is seen, usually about 9:30 p.m.
Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center, 1413 Fulton St.,718-636-4500
Cost: Sliding scale based on income and family size. The clinic says it does not deny anyone due to inability to pay, but tries to work with patients to create a payment plan.
Services: Dentistry, family planning, family practice, internal medicine, nutrition, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, pre-natal care, psychiatry, substance abuse assessment, HIV/AIDS clinic. On-site specialty services include: surgical consultation, urology, cardiology, podiatry, eye-care.
Who runs it: Practicing doctors and nurses
Eligibility: All Brooklyn residents
Hours: Monday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Community Health Care Network, multiple locations (see below)
Cost: Sliding scale based on income and family size, ranging from $40 to $200
Services: Family planning, adolescent medicine, dentistry, HIV care, prenatal and postpartum care, mental health, immunizations, school check-ups and social services. The group also operates mobile health vans that offer breast and pelvic exams, emergency contraception, family planning and testing for HIV, pregnancy and STDs. To find out where the mobile units will be, call 212-545-2437.
Who runs it: A staff of more than 300 including medical providers, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, case managers and counselors. Many of the staff members speak French/Creole and Spanish.
Locations: CABS Health Center (Williamsburg), 94-98 Manhattan Ave., 718-388-0390, Monday, Thursday, Friday: 9 a.m to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Caribbean House Health Center (Crown Heights), 1167 Nostrand Ave., 718-778-0198, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Dr. Betty Shabazz Health Center (East New York), 999 Blake Ave., 718-277-8303, Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hello Health, 105 Berry St., 877-610-0119. [6/12 Update: Hello Health has since closed!]
Cost: Monthly subscription fee of $35; $100 for simple visits, $150 for moderate visits and $200 for complicated visits.
Services: Hello Health describes its services as an internet-age approach to traditional neighborhood doctoring. According to their web site, “You can talk to us like you’re talking to a friend: through emails, texts, phone calls, instant messages, or face-to-face conversations. Also, everything’s online, from making appointments to accessing your records.” The clinic requires a monthly membership fee for online services such as e-mail and chat access to doctors.
Who runs it: Practicing doctors (all of whom seem to be hip, young and stylish)
Eligibility: Anyone in the New York City area. House calls (house calls!) available only to people living in 11211, 11222 and 11206 zip codes in Williamsburg.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Every other Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m