Like many freelancers, I am without health insurance. The last time I had to see a doctor I ended up in the emergency room for something that I could have seen a regular doctor for but I didn't know where to go and it was a Saturday. Anyhow, for the last few days, I've been having pretty bad pains on my lower left abdomen but not bad enough to warrant a trip to the ER. While I'm not looking for medical advice (although if you could provide some, that would be great too) I am curious if there are any health clinics in Brooklyn or Manhattan that are sliding scale and have decent doctors and perhaps even one where I could make an appointment instead of waiting for hours to see somebody. Or is there a phone number I could call for free medical advice? Where do uninsured freelancers go?

Deb, Brooklyn Heights

If you are having any sort of pains in your abdomen Gothamist would advise you to not wait, insurance or not, and get thee to a doctor. Gothamist is not a doctor, but knows people who have had to had emergency appendectomies. Even though it might be financially incovenient to see a doctor when you don't have health insurance, it is even more financially inconvenient to be dead.

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If, however, you feel your situation is not life threatening and you're just wondering where a hard-working freelancer can get reasonable health insurance, try Working Today, also known as the Freelancer's Union. If you work in one of the qualifying industries (nonprofit, financial services, tech, media/advertising, arts/entertainment) you can qualify for health coverage which oftentimes is less than paying a monthly cobra bill. Check their website for more information, but it's a good place to start.

For your more immediate needs, Gothamist found an old Village Voice article which lists a number of clinics offering low-cost and sliding scale services. The article includes places such as the Ryan-Nena Community Health Center at 279 East 3rd Street and the New York City Free Clinic at 16 East 16th Street. Both offer health services to people who otherwise might not be able to afford them, but please call first to confirm any and all details and to make sure you qualify.

And remember, a sliding scale is often based on what the clinic thinks you can pay, not what you think you can afford. So be sure to get information on prices ahead of time, although Gothamist must again advise you not to let high prices stop you from seeing a doctor. Your condition could be more serious than you think.