If you are in need of primary care medical services, there are several places in the District of Columbia to receive care, regardless of your ability to pay or insurance status. All of the below sites offer free or low-cost primary care services.
HOW TO CHOOSE A CLINIC OR PROVIDER:
We recommend going to one of the programs specifically designed for reentry populations. In the case that a clinic is not currently accepting new patients, contact another clinic.
Clinics are listed as "primary care comprehensive clinics" or "primary care limited scope clinics."
- Comprehensive care clinics may serve as your medical home.
- Limited scope clinics may have drop-in services for a non-emergency urgent or episodic care need. If you need on-going care due to chronic illness, we suggest finding a medical home at a comprehensive care clinic.
In addition to primary care clinics, our database includes mental health and substance abuse service providers. Mental health providers offer a wide range of services, but not all have staff that prescribe medications. We recommend you call ahead to determine if the clinic is able to meet your medication needs. In the event that the provider is unable to do so, your primary care physician may be able to fill your prescriptions or refer you to someone who can.
When choosing a substance abuse provider, determine whether or not you are in need of an inpatient facility which requires that you live at the facility during your recovery process. If you determine that you are in need of an inpatient facility, we recommend contacting a facility prior to - or immediately after your release - as space can be very limited.
When choosing a clinic, find one in a location that is accessible to you and meets your language and cultural needs. Remember to call ahead when making an appointment.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
When calling a comprehensive care clinic, before seeing the doctor, you will go through an eligibility screening. Clinic staff will screen you for health coverage programs that may help cover the costs of your visit(s). This may include:
- other local health coverage programs
Documentation may be needed to enroll in these programs. The clinic will provide specific instructions. The following documents are most often requested:
1. A photo ID - This can be your jail/prison ID card or any ID card with your picture. If you do not have a photo ID, you will be asked to sign a waiver.
2. Proof of income - If you are working, please bring your most recent pay stub. If you are unemployed, you will be asked to sign a waiver.
3. Proof of residency - If you have an item of mail with your current address, please bring it to your appointment. If you are not housed or do not have a proof of residency, you will be asked to sign a waiver.
Before your medical appointment or scheduling your medical appointment, a clinic worker will screen you for all programs which you may qualify. In the event that you qualify for a more comprehensive health insurance program, they may have you make a second appointment.
At a limited scope clinic, you will likely be able to drop-in during open hours. Documentation is not typically needed to be seen at one of these clinics, but we suggest you call ahead. If you have an on-going health need, the limited scope or urgent care clinic will refer you to a comprehensive care clinic for follow-ups.
WHEN SEEING THE DOCTOR
When seeing the doctor, we suggest you obtain a pre-release medical plan from the facility in which you were incarcerated. This way, your doctor will determine the type medication you were taking and be better able to serve you.
We suggest working with the clinic to have your medical records transferred to the provider. Tell your doctor where you were incarcerated, so they can process the necessary paperwork to transfer your medical chart.
All medical services are confidential. We suggest you tell your doctor you were formerly incarcerated so they may screen you for potential communicable diseases that are more prevalent in communal living environments.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
1. You cannot be denied health care services because of your criminal history.
2. At the clinics listed above, you will not be denied health services because of your ability to pay.