Frequently Asked Questions

I have no insurance and need....

I have no insurance, and I need to see a doctor today. Where should I go?

If this is a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

If it is not a medical emergency, but you need care immediately, search for “urgent care” here. Some free clinics may also have a limited amount of drop-in appointments. Find those clinics by searching for “doctor or clinic.”

I have no insurance, and I need a regular doctor. Where should I go?

If you are uninsured and need a primary care doctor, search for a doctor near you. Comprehensive clinics provide you with a regular source of care and offer services for reduced cost or free. Clinics will first give you an eligibility appointment, and you will be enrolled in health coverage programs that help with the cost of services.

I am pregnant or might be pregnant and need a doctor. Where should I go?

If you are pregnant or might be pregnant, you will get an appointment right away. Search for a clinic here. Be sure to tell the clinic staff on the phone that you think you are pregnant so they schedule an appointment quickly. For more information please click here or call the Public Health Clearinghouse at 1-800-605-4636.

I am undocumented, where can I go to see a doctor?

Clinics will see you regardless of immigration status. Search for a clinic near you here.

Generally, public health insurance programs, like Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, do not cover undocumented immigrants (except for pregnancy and emergency care). However, there are other programs that cover the cost of services. Clinics can screen and enroll you and your family in these programs.  Click here for a list of clinics where you can be screened for these programs.

I don’t speak English. Where can I go?

Use the search function to narrow to the language you speak.

By law, all health providers must provide interpretation in person, or through the phone, or assign a bilingual provider to you. Tell the clinic staff what you speak when you call.

I called a clinic and they said they do not have appointments to see a regular doctor. What should I do?

Unfortunately, because of the bad economy, wait times may be very long, sometimes many months.

If you need urgent care:

  • For emergencies, Call 911 or use the nearest emergency room.
  • If it is not a medical emergency, call a clinic and tell them you need urgent care
  • Try calling other clinics that may be further from you
  • See if you can be seen during drop-in hours at a free clinic

If you need a regular doctor:

  • Ask how to make an appointment to become a clinic member. Once you are a clinic member, wait times are shorter.
If I am uninsured, why should I become a member of a comprehensive care clinic?

Members of comprehensive care clinics are given a wide range of services. Patients:

  • Are screened for insurance programs.
  • Receive quality services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Are assigned someone who coordinates primary care, prescription drugs, and specialty care.
  • Are guaranteed access to urgent care.
  • Receive a wide range of other social services.
I need a HIV and/or STD test, where should I go?

Use the search function on this website to find a place to receive this test near you.

Information on Insurance and Other Programs

Is there a special program in Alameda County for the uninsured?

Yes. Alameda County offers one program called HealthPAC. This program offers health services to Alameda County residents who are under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and uninsured. If enrolled in this program, free or low-cost health services are available to you at certain clinics and facilities. To find a clinic where you can be enrolled and learn more about the program, please click here.

I had insurance but lost my job; what are my options now?

If you lost your job, you can continue to receive the health insurance you received from your employer by paying your employer’s share of the premium through a program called COBRA. Click here to learn more about COBRA.

You or your family may also qualify for other public health insurance programs, see here for more information.

If you are looking for a doctor or clinic who take uninsured patients, please use the search function.

I have a pre-existing condition and can’t find health insurance, what are my options?

If you have a pre-existing health condition, know your rights.

In California, you can receive health insurance through a state program. See here for more information.

If you cannot afford the premiums through this program, click here to find a doctor or clinic who see uninsured patients in your area.

I am enrolled in Medi-Cal; where can I find a doctor?

If you are on Regular Medi-Cal, you can go to most comprehensive care clinics. Use the search function on this website to find a list of these.

If you have a Medi-Cal health plan through Alameda Alliance for Health or Blue Cross, call their member services department to find a doctor.

If you have Medi-Cal and want to enroll in a health plan, learn more here.

Can my health insurance company cancel my insurance?

To learn more about your rights or file a complaint, see this section.

I received a hospital bill I cannot pay. What should I do?

California law limits what hospitals can charge an uninsured or underinsured person. For information, see HospitalBillHelp.org and the state’s website of Fair Hospital Pricing to get information on hospitals’ discount policies.

Preparing for a Clinic Visit

What can I expect when I call a clinic?

If you are calling to make an appointment and you have never received services at that clinic, expect a wait. First, set up an eligibility appointment to enroll in health coverage programs. After that, you can make a medical appointment with a doctor or other provider.

When you call, the clinic will ask you a few questions about your family, if you have insurance, and your income to see which health coverage and services for which you might qualify. They will make an appointment with you to review your information and tell you which income documents to bring.

See here for further information on what to expect.

What should I expect during an eligibility screening at a clinic?

At this appointment, the clinic staff will see which programs might cover the cost of your health services. They will ask you questions about your family members, your income, your residency, and your citizenship status. All citizenship information is confidential. They will photocopy your documents. After this appointment, the clinic staff will tell you what programs for which you qualify and make an appointment for you to see the doctor.

What documents should I bring with me to my eligibility appointment?

You need to bring a form of identification (example: driver’s license or photo ID), proof of residence (a utility bill or other piece of mail with your current address), proof of income (last two paycheck stubs, most recent tax return, social security check), and if available, proof of citizenship. For details, see here.

What should I expect during my first doctor’s appointment?

When you go to a clinic for your first appointment, first check in at the front desk. Remember to bring:

  • A photo ID
  • Any cards that were given to you during your eligibility appointment.

The front desk staff will ask your name, collect a co-pay or fee (if required), and give you other instructions. Then you will wait for your name to be called. How long you wait to see the doctor will be dependent upon how busy the clinic is.

A medical assistant will call you back and will take your weight, blood pressure, and temperature, then ask you about your medical history and the reason for your visit. You will then meet your doctor.  Remember to bring:

  • All of the medications that you are taking,
  • A list of questions you have for the doctor,
  • A notepad to write instructions from the doctor.

Policy Questions

I heard health reform passed, when can I be enrolled in health insurance?

Health reform passed in 2010; however, it will not be fully implemented until 2014 (some parts will begin earlier). For information on health reform, see HealthCare.gov.

ACHealthCare.org will be updated with information for Alameda County residents as programs roll out.

How many uninsured residents are there in Alameda County?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 there were about 199,000 uninsured residents in Alameda County. For more data and reports on the uninsured in Alameda County, click here.

Other Questions

I did a search and no results came up. Where can I go?

Try expanding your search by:

  • Expand your proximity to more miles – If you can travel further, you may find more providers
  • Expand Language to “Any” – If the language(s) you selected do not show enough results, try expanding the search to “Any”. Many providers offer interpretation services through Language Line, a telephone interpretation service.
  • Expand Service to Doctor or Clinic – The specific service you are looking for may be best found by searching for a general doctor or clinic
My question is not here. Where can I go to get more information?

For more information about finding health services or health insurance, call the Public Health Clearinghouse at 1-888-604-4636. They are open Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm.

For information about housing or human services, call 211, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.