Dear PoPville – Looking for a Doctor Without Using Insurance

Photo by PoPville flickr user Faucetini

“Dear PoPville,

I need some help: I don’t have insurance; so haven’t gotten a DC doctor since I moved here about a year ago.

I have a pretty straight forward thyroid issue; my Dr back in Detroit has continued to write the prescription but is wanting me to have blood work updated – is there anything local I can use to get the thyroid levels checked – and even better that might write the prescription locally – and even more do it cheap?”

26 Comment

  • Can you just go to the Quest Diagnostics lab downtown to have them draw your blood and send the results to your doctor back home?

    That way you just pay for the blood draw and the lab test.

    • I think you need a prescription/doctor’s orders before you can have lab work done.

      • Would the doctor back home be willing to write this for you?

        • I work for a doctor (and have for many over the years) – they will do it…as long as you pay for their time.

          it’s like asking a realtor to find a house but not want to get paid a commission.

          I would suggest focusing on getting insurance or apply for DC Medical Assistance – aka Medicaid

  • You could try the northwest nurse practitioner clinic ( I don’t know how much they cost, but nurse practitioners in DC can write prescriptions and provide excellent care that is often cheaper than an MD.

    • I second NWNP– they accept patients without insurance and have fantastic bedside manners. The per-visit charge for non-primary care patients is about $150.

      I just started going to them and they are working with me on my hypothyroidism. They were able conduct and analyze my blood work, plus write me a new Synthroid scrip.

  • Checking with the DC Health Department might be the first start. I’m pretty sure they run a clinic on 14th street.

  • How about using a nurse practitioner? I think some of the pharmacies like CVS have them. Also, the medical practice I go to has one (and they have a lab to draw blood as well): 1140 19th Street NW, (202) 728-9630

  • There are a number of health centers in the district that offer services on a sliding scale based on your income if you don’t have insurance — he is the federal website where you can find one close to you:

  • Go to this website to find a community health center in DC.

  • Farragut medical and travel care, on Connecticut Ave., works without insurance. They do lab work as well, so they might be able to do the routine thyroid lab work. I would not describe them as cheap though.

    To other commenters: note that places such as ‘minute clinics’ and such do not accept (are not allowed to?) chronic issues, such as thyroid problems.

    • MsNesbitt


      Farragut Medical and Travel was useful to me when I was without insurance, as well. About $100 for a visit, not including prescriptions or labwork, but if you’re really sick, $100 is worth it sometimes. The doctor there worked with me to prescribe antibiotics that wouldn’t break the bank, too. Not that this necessarily applies to this situation, but it’s good to know about these clinics.

    • +2 Great people, great service and easy metro access!

  • MsNesbitt

    I’ve gone to Bread for the City when I was without insurance. I’m not entirely sure if they can do bloodwork, but it’s worth looking into. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experience there. It was completely free, and they also provide insurance options based on your income levels.

    • There is a lab there, and they can help people get DC-funded insurance. However, they only have a limited number of new patient spots. I also don’t know if they have an income limit–some of their other programs only work with those whose income is under 200% of the federal poverty level (that’s $1815 a month for a single person).

      • MsNesbitt

        I don’t think there’s an income limit to go to the clinic, but there is definitely an income limit to qualify for insurance. I made roughly $42k, so I was over the limit for insurance, but a doctor still saw me. You do have to call right at 9AM the day prior to when you want an appointment, though. New patient slots go very quickly.

  • I second NWNP– they accept patients without insurance and have fantastic bedside manners. The per-visit charge for non-primary care patients is about $150.

    I just started going to them and they are working with me on my hypothyroidism. They were able conduct and analyze my blood work, plus write me a new Synthroid scrip.

  • Check out NIH. There are two studies currently on-going that evaluate patients with endocrine disorders. the purpose of both studies is to provide training opportunities for their clinical residents. They will do all the bloodwork, and might even write you a prescription, and it will only cost you the metro fare. I go there for thyroid related stuff and the docs and staff are super. And free. www dot clinicaltrials dot gov . i used “thyroid” as my search term and limited it to Maryland.

  • Despite the lack of primary care providers in the District, there are actually several local programs that can help folks out in OP’s situation.

    First, the group Coverage for All has an excellent matrix of health coverage options in the District

    Second, the District has been a leader in expanding Medicaid coverage beyond the federally mandated poverty levels. The following link is to the DC Dept. of Health Care Finance (the Medicaid administrators) and will put you in touch with folks who can guide you through the eligibility process

    Third, Carefirst (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) operates an insurance program for high risk District residents. I’m not sure what their monthly premiums are, but I know of many residents who have gotten the care they needed (and previously couldn’t access) through this program

    Finally, the new health care reform law established a pre-existing condition insurance program (PCIP)for those who haven’t been able to get insurance in the last 6 months because of their condition (not sure if this applies to OP, but worth mentioning).

    Hope this helps- good luck OP!

  • ask your Physician from Detroit to write you an order for labwork, take this order down to a diagnostic lab, have them do the panel.

    or you can do this:

  • Whitman Walker on 14th offers primary care and is used to dealing with all sorts of insurance issues. On top of that, some of the best doctors I’ve had have worked there – you may find you like it and stay with them. I did even after I got insurance and have going there now for about 5 years.

  • you get what you pay for, I do not suggest price shopping for doctors

  • Call the Washington Endocrine Clinic — the Clinic takes both insurance and will accept cash payment for those without insurance. The Clinic deals only with Endocrine issues — diabetes, thyroid, parathyroid, low testosterone, etc.
    Check them out:

  • DC is unique in that it offers free health insurance to some who do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford other insurace. DC Alliance-

    You can also try Unity Health Centers-

    If you don’t have insurance they determine fees based on a sliding scale.

    You can also try a Planned Parenthood clinic as well, they mostly do sexual health, but might include some basic blood work as well.

  • dude.. cvs has a walk in clinic that’s pretty cheap. you can go with or without insurance… you just have to be able to get to the sketchy one on benning road (or maybe that was just cuz i needed to go on a sunday evening)

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