June is National Men's Health Month, an annual campaign designed to drive awareness around preventable health problems and promote early detection of diseases, like prostate cancer and heart disease.
Look for free screenings, health fairs and other health education activities from local health care providers, state health departments or your workplace, during Men's Health Week, in particular, which runs June 11 to June 17. (It's timed to culminate on Father's Day each year.)
Finding free health care services
Men with health insurance are entitled to certain free preventive services all year, thanks to former President Barack Obama's health care law. All covered Americans are, actually. Obamacare mandates health care plans — including high-deductible ones (HDHPs) — cover a set of preventive services at no cost. That means you won't need to cover a co-pay or co-insurance or have met your deductible to get the applicable care. You simply must get them from a health care provider in your plan's network. (Note: While the screening or service is free, you may have to pay for the doctor's visit.)
Here is a list of the major medical services insured men and boys can get for free this June or beyond.
Many free screenings have age restrictions or other stipulations. Check with your doctor to make sure you meet them before taking the test.
- A one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screening if you're of a certain age (generally 65 to 75) and have smoked
- Cholesterol screenings if you're over a certain age or at higher risk
- Colorectal cancer screenings if you're 50 to 75 years old
- Depression screenings
- Diabetes (Type 2) screenings if you're overweight and between 40 to 70 years old
- HIV screenings, if you're 15 to 65 or at increased risk
- Hepatitis B screenings if you're considered high-risk
- Hepatitis C screenings if you're considered high-risk; Americans born between 1945 and 1965 are entitled to one free test for the disease
- Lung cancer screenings if you're 55 to 80 years old and at high risk due to the habit (applicable to heavy smokers and smokers who quit in the past 15 years)
- Syphilis screening if you're at higher risk
- Tuberculosis screening if you're at higher risk
Vaccinations & medications
The following immunizations or medications fall under Obamacare's free preventive services mandate. However, doses, recommended ages and recommended populations vary, so, again, check with your doctor to be sure you qualify.
- Diphtheria vaccines
- Hepatitis A vaccines
- Hepatitis B vaccines
- Herpes Zoster (Shingles) vaccines
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines
- Influenza vaccine (aka the flu shot)
- Measles vaccines
- Meningococcal vaccines
- Mumps vaccines
- Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines
- Pneumococcal vaccines
- Rubella vaccines
- Tetanus shots
- Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccines
- Prescription aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer, if you're 50 to 59 years old and consider high risk
- Statin preventive medication if you're 40 to 75 years old and considered high risk; These meds reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering or preventing high cholesterol. It's important preventive care supply to note, given heart disease is the leading cause of death among men.
Again, certain stipulations may apply. Ask your doctor or health insurer if the services are covered for free so you don't get hit with a surprise bill.
- Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
- Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
- Falls prevention (exercise or physical therapy and vitamin D use) if you're 65 year and over and living in a community setting
- Obesity screening and counseling
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling if you're at higher risk
What if I don't have health insurance?
Campaigns and initiatives related to Men's Health will vary, depending on where you live. Check with your local health department to see what programs it is running. There are some resources you can tap to find free or low-cost health care near you. These include:
- The Men’s Health Network, which powers Men's Health Month, has an online database of low-cost clinics you can search by state.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a similar database online.
- ZERO maintains a list of centers that provide low-to-no cost prostate cancer screenings across the U.S.
Finding affordable health insurance
Most people can only apply for an health care plan through the Obamacare exchanges during open enrollment, which begins in November. But if you need health insurance, check to see if you qualify for a special enrollment period. These periods are tied to big life events, like getting married, having a child or losing health insurance through your job. (We can help you see if you are eligible for special enrollment here.)
Don't assume a plan will be too expensive. Obamacare subsidizes exchange health care plans for people who earn between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. Other low-income Americans might qualify for Medicaid, which you enroll in all year round. Medicaid requirements vary by state. You can see how to qualify for Medicaid in your state here.
Beyond that, you can look into short-term health insurance, limited benefit plans or prescription discount cards. These health insurance alternatives aren't ideal, but they're better than going completely without coverage. You can learn more about these options here.