Knowing how to find doctors, get insurance, and manage your own health can be tricky—but it’s very useful. It’s important to stay informed and take control of your own health and well-being. Luckily, NYC has lots of free and confidential resources to help.
NYC YouthHealth Centers
NYC YouthHealth, run by NYC Health + Hospitals, the City’s public hospital system, provides health care for youth 12 and up, regardless of ability to pay, immigration status, or sexual orientation. Services include:
sexual and reproductive health
mental health and depression help
healthy weight management
sports physical and sports injury care
Visit a YouthHealth Center
NYC YouthHealth Centers are located throughout the city. For some services, including sexual and reproductive health, you can walk in by yourself without an appointment. For others, you need a parent or guardian with you for your first visit.
Taking care of your sexual and reproductive health is an important part of being a teen and young adult. The City gives all young people 12 years of age and older the right to confidential, low- to no-cost sexual health services without parental permission at NYC Sexual Health Clinics. Services include:
STI/HIV testing and treatment
If you need access to birth control, the NYC Health Map can help you find locations around the city.
Visit a Sexual Health Clinic
At NYC Sexual Health Clinics you’ll be seen on a first-come, first-served basis, and no appointment or permission from a parent or guardian is necessary.
If you’re over 12 you’ll be seen—regardless of your insurance status or ability to pay.
If you’re under 19, you will not be asked for insurance information or payment for your visit.
Some SBHCs also offer mental health care and reproductive care for high school students.
Get health care at school
All students enrolled at a school with a SBHC are eligible for health care services, even if they don’t have insurance. To get free health care, you must have your parent or guardian fill out and return a consent form.
Health insurance can be confusing and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some basics.
Insurance is required for most people. You can be fined if you’re over 18 and don’t have it (if your parents/guardians still claim you on their taxes they’re responsible for your health insurance)
You can stay on your parents’ health insurance until you’re 26 years of age
Most colleges have health insurance plans that students can enroll in while at school
Most full-time jobs have a health insurance plan employees can enroll in—the cost is usually subtracted from your paycheck
If you’re not covered by parents, work, or school, you can still get health insurance and the peace of mind it brings.
Understand health insurance terms
Insurance is filled with a lot of complex terms but they’re useful to know. Understanding the basics helps you choose a plan that’s right for you.
Deductible: The amount you pay yourself before your insurance starts paying. For example, if you have a $700 deductible, you pay your own medical expenses until you hit $700—then your insurance starts paying.
Premium: The monthly amount you pay to have an insurance plan.
Co-pay: The amount of money you’re expected to pay toward a medical bill.
In-network: Doctors who are on your insurance plan’s approved list—costs will be lower with these doctors.
Out-of-network: Doctors who are not on your insurance plan’s approved list—costs will be higher with these doctors.
Public health insurance People with a low income can apply for public health insurance programs like Medicaid. You can use ACCESS NYC to see if you’re eligible.
The Essential Plan The Essential Plan offers quality health insurance to working adults with lower incomes who do not qualify for Medicaid.
NYC Health + Hospitals options If you do not have insurance or have limited insurance coverage, you can get affordable care at NYC Health + Hospitals.
Child/Teen Health Program If you’re covered by Medicaid and under 21 years old, you’re eligible for free preventive health care services—which includes shots, physicals, and blood tests, plus vision, dental, and hearing screenings. Call the HRA Infoline at 718-557-1399 for more information.