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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, March 3

Gapers Block

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Q: As a young person in Chicago without medical insurance and in need of health care, I've been poking around online to see what's available as far as free clinics go, or clinics with sliding scales. I would love to read a round-up of what resources are available for people without health insurance who want to go to the doctor without breaking the bank.

Simply listing the free clinics in the Chicago area would make a very short column, so I am providing a list of a wide variety of healthcare resources you can add to your arsenal. I must state upfront, however, that I do not necessarily recommend or endorse the practices or opinions expressed by the following websites or organizations, nor do I make any claims about the accuracy of the information they present. All information is used at your own risk.

Local Government Resources

Illinois Department of Public Health
The Illinois Department of Public Health is charged with protecting Illinois residents "through the prevention and control of disease and injury." The website includes health fact sheets on everything from chickenpox to hypertension to HIV. And the department's A to Z topics list provides information on dozens of additional subjects affecting public health.

Illinois Department of Public Aid
The Illinois Department of Public Aid is "responsible for providing health care coverage for adults and children who qualify for Medicaid." The site contains a huge amount of information about the state's medical assistance programs, including the Illinois Healthy Women program.

Free Clinics and Low-Cost Healthcare Providers

Bureau of Primary Health Care Directory
This is a searchable directory of "service delivery sites providing primary care to underserved populations" across the U.S. The directory is a service of the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services charged with assuring "the availability of quality health care to low income, uninsured, isolated, vulnerable and special needs populations." You can search for clinics by state, city or zip code and limit your search to specific types of services or programs.

Unite for Sight Free Clinics Directory
Unite for Sight, a non-profit organization focusing on eye health for the medically underserved and uninsured, has a comprehensive listing of free clinics throughout the United States. Download the .pdf directory of free clinics in Illinois. Each listing includes address, telephone number, clinic hours, and services provided.

Free Clinics of the Great Lakes Region
This website provides an up-to-date listing of free clinics for the entire Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. The Illinois page lists seven free clinics in the city of Chicago, along with contact information.

General Health Resources

Healthfinder is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services linking to hundreds of carefully selected websites and other resources for health-related information.

MedlinePlus is a comprehensive resource for health information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. You could spend all day on this site and only scratch the surface of what it has to offer. The site includes a complete medical encyclopedia with over 4,000 entries, a searchable medical dictionary, information about over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and fact pages covering more than 650 health topics.
This website is a special service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide "free, reliable health information for women everywhere." Find information on a wide variety of special topics.

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About the Author(s)

Alice Maggio is a real, live Chicago librarian. If you have topic ideas or questions you would like answered, send your suggestions to and it may be featured in a future column.

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