Services Abound for Undocumented
Thousands of Irish immigrants, mostly undocumented, cannot obtain health insurance, meaning a visit to the doctor, dentist or hospital can cost them hundreds of dollars.
However, various medical service professionals in both Queens and the Bronx/Yonkers open their offices to the undocumented and charge them a minimal fee for professional expertise.
IrishCentral contacted some of these services to find out the cost of a visit and all that goes with it.
A favorite among Irish immigrants is medical practitioner Dr. Franklin Ward, who is located on 204th Street in the Bronx. He has been serving members of the Irish community for more than 45 years.
Ward, who has been described by many patients as a gentle soul who knows more about Irish history and sports than many of their fellow countrymen, charges a flat rate of $60 to see a patient without insurance.
Ward also takes x-rays at his office; a visit with an x-ray sets a patient back $90 in total. Each x-ray after the initial visit is $20. Payment must be made at the end of each visit.
Dr. Johnny Kovoor and Dr. Caridad Fresneda share a practice in Yonkers. An appointment is necessary to see either doctor, and there is generally a long wait as both Kovoor and Fresneda are in high demand in the Irish community.
“We have a lot of Irish clients in with us every day,” said the receptionist at their office.
The first visit to either the male doctor Kovoor or the female doctor Fresneda is $175. Each visit after that is $75, due to be paid after seeing the doctors. Kovoor and Fresneda do not have x-ray facilities at their practice but can, if needed, recommend an agency that offers x-rays suited to low income families or people without insurance.
Patients without insurance will be seen by doctors at Woodside Family Health Center in Queens for an initial payment of $60 upfront; every visit thereafter will cost a patient $40. An appointment is necessary as the service is constantly busy.
“We will of course take an emergency case but otherwise an appointment is a must,” said the receptionist. The center does not have an x-ray facility.
Tests carried out at doctors’ offices are sent to a lab for analysis and the individual will be billed directly for the tests. Blood tests, for example, can run anywhere from $250 to $350. The doctors are not responsible for this fee.
Adding to the price tag of a doctor’s visit is the costly medication prescribed to a patient. It’s well known that local family owned pharmacies tend to be kinder on the pocket to people who don’t have insurance than those of bigger pharmaceutical chains like Duane Reade and Walgreens.
Dr. Paul Klein, a dentist who has been serving the Woodlawn and Yonkers community for over three decades, provides reliable services at minimal cost. Depending on the procedure, a trip to see Klein can cost anything from $40 to $150.
“It really depends on what the person needs to have done,” said an employee at Klein’s office on the corner of McLean and Kimball Avenues. “For example if a person hasn’t been to the dentist in a long time and needs a thorough checkup then it would cost $50.”