By Remy F.
Many people, especially teens, feel hopeless when it comes to affording healthcare. They feel like if their parents don’t have healthcare then there are no options for them either. Some teens do have access to healthcare through their parents, but they are afraid of their parents finding out that they used it or about confidentiality. While the media makes affording healthcare sound impossible, teens have rights in California to help them get the sexual and reproductive health resources they need. Here are three myths about affordable health care for sexual and reproductive health BUSTED:
(1) I can't afford getting an STD test, pregnancy test, or other sexual health service at the doctor's office.
If you are a teenager in California, you have the right to access free or low-cost sexual and reproductive health care. If you don’t have insurance and can’t pay on your own then California’s family planning program, Family PACT, provides minors with coverage for pregnancy tests, prescription birth control, STD testing and treatment (if you are 12 and over), and counseling. It does not, however cover abortions or prenatal or maternity care. If you find yourself needing to visit a doctor and don't know how to afford it, you can sign up for FamilyPACT at a clinic near you, call 800-952-1054, or go to www.familypact.org.
(2) I can't afford an abortion on my own.
While Family PACT won't pay for abortion services, if your income is very low (which is common for most teens), you can apply for Medi-Cal - the state funded Medicaid program in California which pays for pregnancy-related care including abortion. Medi-Cal only counts the money you earn for yourself, not what your parents earn so it will be easy for you to sign up on your own and get the help you need. These services are all confidential so there's no need to worry about your parents finding out. In order to sign up for Medi-Cal, you can contact your local County office or visit www.medi-cal.ca.gov for more information.
(3) I don't want to deal with applying for insurance, and I'm just too broke to go to the clinic.
Some clinics have 'sliding fee scales' meaning that they charge less to people that have less money. How do you find out which clinics provide this option? Go to our clinic finder, find a clinic near you, and start calling clinics and asking them if they offer a 'sliding fee scale.'
Some of you may already have health insurance through your parents or guardians. If that's the case then it probably covers many sexual and reproductive health services. Thanks to a new law, you can submit a CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION REQUEST to your health insurance company if you are worried about your parents finding out about your trip to the clinic. Stay tuned for more information about this new law coming soon!
If confidentiality is still a concern after that, you can always sign up for FamilyPACT to access services.
As you can see, it’s not hopeless to get the care that you need! Being a teen in California never felt so good + affordable!