Brokelyn Classics

No-insurance BK healthcare guide

needles2Getting 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
: 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.
: 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
: 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.
: 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
: All Brooklyn residents
: 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)
: Sliding scale based on income and family size, ranging from $40 to $200
: 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.
Eligibility: Anyone
: 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
Cost: Monthly subscription fee of $35; $100 for simple visits, $150 for moderate visits and $200 for complicated visits.
: 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)
: 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.
: 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
. [6/12 Update: Hello Health has since closed!]



  1. Tim: It’s great that you’re providing this info, and I’m sure it will be useful to a lot of people. However, I’m concerned that folks might be misled into thinking they would be able to adequately address all their health care concerns via these sources. I deal with a chronic condition which requires regular access to prescriptions, specialists, testing, etc. For me, none of these would substitute for an employer-provided or individually-purchased health plan. Charities, pro-bono work, and public/private partnerships are good, but in the larger picture, I think it’s important to note that a single-payer, public option would be a much better choice for *all* Brokelyners, including myself.

    I’m really just saying that their ought to be a caveat that what may be “enough health care” for one may not barely begin to address the issue for another.

  2. brittany

    I’m pretty sure the New York City Free Clinic is only free for everyone on Saturdays, other days it’s only free for the super poor and then there’s a sliding scale. They are not explicit about this and I found out the hard way when I went to my appointment there a few weeks ago. They said it would be at least $135 just to see the doctor, unless I wanted to meet with a social worker first. I knew I wouldn’t qualify for free care or low-cost care to make it worth the visit, so I left, very agitated.

    Hello Health sounds good in theory, but its website says its a $35/month subscription PLUS $200/hour for one of the 3 doctors listed. That doesn’t include tests and labs you might need either. Lousy.

  3. Erica

    You guys forgot an important one! Planned Parenthood does everything from routine OBGYN exams to birth control to STD testing to cancer screenings (, and has a health center in Borough Hall (

    The center charges on a sliding scale, and won’t turn any one away regardless of how much they can pay or whether or not they have insurance. In fact, they even have insurance counselors on staff so that any patients who qualify for public health insurance (you’d be surprised how many do in NYC) can get enrolled during their visit!

  4. Hey all, I just wanted to let you know that I
    am working with a company called Wanduta, which offers musicians benefits
    like discount cards to thousands of vendors across the USA and affordable health insurance. Check out to see what we offer and the list of prices for health insurance!

  5. A Smart Woman

    Almost any hospital in America offers free health care and teaching hospitals have free doctor appointments if your really poor…otherwise, they go on a sliding scale…there is no need in this country for FREE medically RUN GOVERNMENT intervention…that is just too scary.

  6. Trumsytique

    Great start to your post, Tim. All the hospitals in NYC must provide emergency care to people irrespective of their ability to pay- that’s the law. Usually that means that payment is on a sliding scale and takes into account income. In most cases people within 150% of the federal poverty line can qualify for Emergency Medicaid to cover most care that is for a life threatening emergency. In addition we are blessed in NYC with a city hospital system to find locations call 311 or see Also we have federally qualified health centers(FQHCs)- part of their mandate is to care for people without insurance. Find a FQHC here at .

  7. Tim Donnelly

    Thanks for the feedback and additional tips y’all! I was focusing on more general offering health care, but Planned Parenthood is a good one to include of course. I’ve also heard tale of many a sympathetic doctor around the city who will offer extra prescriptions or consultation for people without insurance.

  8. super v

    I can vouch for HelloHealth, I went there this week and had a really positive experience. I haven’t signed up to any subscription fee. The doctors have different prices. It’s not free but the doctors are young, intelligent, and talk to you like a real person.

  9. North Brooklyn

    The fact that you’re a starving artist and work as a barista by choice isn’t going to qualify you for ANY program! It is *incredibly* misleading to imply that it would. The services above are truly for the poor. Not for those who are choosing a lifestyle that doesn’t afford them insurance.

    To say that “every” hospital offers free health care is wrong. Sliding scale will scare the heck out of you.

    If you don’t have money, then make the phone calls now: some – not all – local, smaller, neighborhood doctors will work with you if you have no insurance and are willing to pay cash (not checks – not credit cards – hand them actual cash). Calling to discuss beforehand is what you want to do, so that when you’re sick you have somewhere to go.

    Nowhere will treat you for free if you are otherwise able-bodied and decide that you’re going to move into a loft out at the Morgan L stop and share it with 10 other people and work as a barista.

    The problem is proving “really poor”. You can’t qualify for anything unless you are absolutely destitute. I know, because I went through it. I started my own business, it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, I was broke in a year and a half. I wasn’t poor enough to qualify for any of the New York state public health insurance programs (which I’m surprised are missing from this article).

    What hospital in NYC offers free care? I’d really, truly, like to know from the commenter above. What’s the level of that free care? How many hours will you have to sit and wait to receive it? You can’t just walk into these places and say, “Hey! I’m broke. Treat me.”

    Let’s take politics out of it- the statement that there is ample health care for all who need it is just plain false. I found myself desperately sick and in need of antibiotics. I couldn’t work – the infection was in my throat and I couldn’t answer the phone. Finally, I got a friend to make phone calls for me and she got a local urgent care clinic to take me on a cash-only basis. It wasn’t cheap but I was desperate and everyone was scared I would get sicker if I didn’t go.

    I wasn’t poor enough to qualify for anything that the local clinics or hospitals offered.

    This article paints a rosy picture that will be devastating when someone who reads it and relies on it falls off their bike and breaks an arm and then has to figure out what to do and where to go. Or worse.

    Do NOT pay for discount cards from any program. If you’re part of an affinity group – like, say, Freelancer’s Union – they should be FREE.

  10. other alternatives:
    AMG… limited flat rate care:

    Minute Clinic at CVS Pharmacy in Staten Island. R train to 86th, S79 bus right to the door.
    1361 Hylan Boulevard
    Staten Island, NY 10305

    NY State Family Health Plus program.
    income eligibility chart here:

    If your income is too high for Family Health Plus, there is reduced-cost Health insurance through the state’s HealthyNY program:

    Health care for Artists is available at Woodhull Medical Center:

    feature article of Artists Access here:

  11. M. A.

    GREAT POSTING! If you can afford HealthyNY, you might as well go for regular health insurance! It’s way too $$$. Call a decent broker and get real insurance. If you are poor, don’t forget about Ryan Nena in Manhattan They are sliding scale and I’ve lots of good things about them. I live in Brooklyn but don’t trust BK drs after some really stupid and nearly life-threatening encounters. I’m on FHP and it’s really OK.

  12. Wayne

    One great new option is The No Insurance Club. Patients can sign up for their own personal doctor (primary care physician) and see them 12 times a year. It costs $480 for the year. This won’t meet ALL of a person’s possible health needs. Nothing low-cost does. But if you consider that an annual physical costs $300, but these doctors include that and 11 more visits in the fee you really can’t complain. For that matter, look for any doctor with a low-cost “membership plan.” $480/year is about the lowest you will find nationwide though.

  13. There is no mention here of Dentists so here’s something… Lutheran Medical Center 718-630-6875 in Sunset Park , Brooklyn has an amazing Dental Clinic if you live in there catchment area. Services are practically free with a large up to date facility and friendly and helpful staff. I live in Williamsburg which unfortunately is out of there service area but we did use there emergency dental program when my girlfriend had an excruciating tooth ache and it only cost $70.00. If anyone knows of a good dental clinic in Williamsburg I would love to know.

  14. Rachel

    I just paid $159 for dental discounts via Cigna from and saved almost 1/2 off of double root canals w/ a great dentist in Bay Ridge… It was still over $800 but I’m told that’s a huge discount from what it would have normally been w/o any insurance.

  15. Wayne

    Rachel, yes, there’s only a couple of doctors in NY in the No Insurance Club. So what? If you want health care, go try out that doctor!! If you like that doctor, then join the NIC and your next 12 visits are paid for.

  16. Glanton

    Hello Health is a good idea in theory, but the monthly subscription fee is totally overinflated. $35/mo for access to a website, basically? No thanks.

  17. Jordan

    The follow-up posts to this article are revealing something just as important as the article itself. I think it really stinks that the public has to suffer from practically zero price transparency in the health care world. If pricing information could be gathered and provided (most importantly to the uninsured) competition could be increased and reasonable prices discovered. This is one of the few industries that I have ever come across where this is allowed to persist.

  18. Hi, we have taken over Hello Health at 105 Berry St., Bklyn,NY 718-218-7918

    We have transparent fees, spend time and work with you to explain everything carefully. We provide excellent primary care right here. You can be seen as a member, or as a la carte visits if that works better for you.

    Please check out our website for more information! We have a physician and a Nurse Practitioner on staff ready to see you!

  19. A la carte visits …. sounds like another hipster trust fund baby restaurant…

    I am familiar with most of these services.. Woodhull Hoptital for Musicians ? Are you kidding me? Have you been to Woodhull Hospital before?

    What happens to the hard-working single parent who earns too much for any of these “sliding scales” but not enough to afford 800 bucks per month for comprehensive? And forget about the doc. visit for a moment. Sure I can come up with the 100 $ to see a physician if I really feel I need to…

    but what if you wake up one morning with a bump in your belly button and it turns out you got a hernia and need surgery? Then where do you go in NYC w/out health care???

  20. Charlemagne

    Re: Person posting about – healthcare for musicians from $55/month..
    Complete bullshit, cheapest monthly rate in NY is $850/month

  21. Lauren

    Another one should be added for dental care – the NY Technical College in Brooklyn has a clinic where you can get a full cleaning for 10$ done by a student supervised by a professor. Xrays are another 10-15$.

  22. Rachel

    For very good, inexpensive dental care, NYU Dental School on 24th in Manhattan. I have had extensive work done by them and not only is it a fraction of what it would cost for private practice, but the are really caring, clean, professional and concerned with aesthetics. They will also bill you.
    As for the list of free clinics for PC or sick visits, I have to agree with most of the posts here. The free clinic list is misleading. The clinics are not free and more often than not want too much $ for the minimal and poor services rendered. The person who posted that hospitals give free care should check their facts. Hospital do NOT give free care. Some hospitals, like Long Island College Hospital gives a sliding scale discount that is fair. It usually covers emergency services and sometimes the doctors will work with you re: preventative services. You go in to the emergency dept, speak to a financial counselor and show proof of (low) income to receive this benefit. It is actually very helpful considering free clinics are not free and have limited hours.

  23. Aatif

    So basically… I’m screwed. I mind as well sign myself up to a mental facility. Do they at least provide the mentally insane with free health coverage? (serious question)

  24. Rowan

    I checked in with the Community Health Care Network on pricing for a dental check up.

    My income isn’t especially high (i got them to quote against 40k annual) but i still seemed to qualify for the most expensive visit cost ($250). Not only that but it seemed that a basic dental check would be spread over 2-3 visits (all $250).

    So i would have been looking at $500 – $750 just for a check up. The dentist office on my block offered a check up for $225 with fillings at $100-$300. So it seems the cheap option isn’t so great..

Leave a Reply