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.”
Klein’s office accepts payment plans according to the amount of work needed to be done. X-rays are additional costs. Appointments are a must.
Located just off Woodlawn is Mercy Community Care Dental Surgery, part of Montefiore Hospital. An appointment is required and the initial visit is $168, which is to be paid upfront.
“The $168 includes a check-up and x-ray,” said an employee at the surgery. Each visit after that depends on what work needs to be done.
“On the second visit we work out a payment plan with the patient,” she said.
Woodside Family Dental charges $45 for an initial consultation with the dentist. This price includes an examination, a cleaning and x-rays. A receptionist at the center told the Irish Voice that such a service usually costs $125.
Each appointment after that is priced individually depending on a patient needs. Although it’s preferred that a patient settle their bill at the end of each visit, if it’s a large amount is due then a payment method can be worked out over the course of a year.
For an undocumented woman who is pregnant, the Parental Care Assistance Program (PCAP) is available to care for the mother and child pre and post birth free of charge. PCAP offers complete pregnancy care and other health care services to women and teens who live in New York State. All hospitals participate in this program.
Another service greatly available is that of counselors. Both the Aisling Irish Community Center and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center have in house counselors available at various times in the week to meet with members of the Irish community who need someone to talk to.