Even when the economy is in good shape, paying for health care can be tough.
A panel of experts offered tips for a crowd of about 75 residents Tuesday night at the Sandusky State Theatre during the Register's Solutions seminar-- the fourth of a series of six town hall meetings designed to provide help in hard times.
Here's some of their best advice.
Q. How can I get health care if I don't have insurance and don't have much money?
A. "That is why we exist," explained Wilson Forney, executive director of Family Health Services of Erie County.
Family Health Services provides primary care to anybody who needs it, with low fees for people with little money. It's located on the south campus of Firelands Regional Medical Center, 1912 Hayes Ave.
Q. What can I do if I can't afford my expensive prescription drugs?
A. Get a list of the drugs covered by the $4 generic drug program at businesses such as Giant Eagle and Wal-Mart. Better yet, get more than one list, because they differ. Show the list (or lists) to your doctor and ask if any of those drugs will do the job, said Mark Dunn, director of Ohio Insurance Options.
Also, try the local drug repository program, which makes some drugs available for $7.40 a prescription, said Sue Daugherty, director of Serving Our Seniors. If you are 60 or over, contact Serving Our Seniors for details on eligibility. If you are younger, call Volunteers of America.
Q. I need eyeglasses. Everyone I call wants to charge hundreds of dollars.
A. Use your eye doctor's prescription to get a cheap pair of glasses from www.zennioptical.com. The Lions Clubs may also be able to help. If you live in Sandusky, call Fred Fogle at the local Lions Club chapter at 419-239-3997.
Q. I have a toothache and I don't have dental insurance. I can't afford a dentist.
A. A mobile dental care van parks at the Erie County Health Department three or four times a month and offers care for reasonable fees. Call 1-866-378-6965, said Pete Schade, Erie County health commissioner.
Q. I know I'm overweight, but it's too cold to walk in the winter and I can't afford a gym membership.
A. During the slow winter months, September through May, many local hotels offer a pool membership for a reasonable fee. The local YMCA offers scholarships for people who can't afford memberships. Medicare sometimes pays for gym memberships.
Q. I can't afford health insurance for my children.
A. Congress has expanded an existing federal program to provide health insurance for kids. Call Erie County Job and Family Services for details.
Q. I have problems with my government health program, and the bureaucrats aren't listening.
A. Constituent service is a big part of what any Congressman does. Call U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, at 419-259-7500 or U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, at 216-522-7272 and ask for help.
The next Solutions seminar, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Sandusky State Theatre, will cover jobs and well-being. The seminar is free and open to the public.