When a patient goes to the doctor without a health insurance plan, is there a term for this kind of appointment?

Just to give a context:

  • Me: I want to schedule an appointment
  • Secretary: What is your insurance plan?
  • Me: I don't have any. This appointment is going to be ______ .

4 Answers 4


The most general term for this that I know of is "self-pay." "Uninsured" implies that the patient has no insurance, which may not be the case—the patient may have insurance that doesn't cover a particular procedure, or the patient may have other reasons for not wanting to use insurance.

A Google search suggests that the term "self-pay" is widely used, though of course that doesn't mean that there aren't other terms that are also used for the same thing.

  • This is a pretty widely used term, and it might fit, depending on circumstances. I think the question said "without a health insurance plan", though, so I upvoted @Robusto's answer too.
    – Daniel
    Jul 30, 2011 at 11:10
  • 1
    In the healthcare industry in the US, the term "self-pay" is very common to describe this kind of visit.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jul 30, 2011 at 16:30
  • I work with a lot of doctors' offices in the Los Angeles area, and although one might speak of "self-pay" in a formal context, these patients and their visits are universally called cash - as in "John Smith is a cash patient", or "My insurance won't cover this procedure, so this will be a cash visit."
    – MT_Head
    Feb 26, 2013 at 1:19

This would be an uninsured visit to the doctor. But you needn't call it that. Just tell the office how you will pay for the visit and any follow-up services.

I don't have any health coverage, so I'll pay in cash.

I don't have any health coverage, so I'll pay with a credit card.


In the UK, appointments with the doctor and similar healthcare are normally free at point of delivery (it may no longer be the envy of the world, but we do still have a National Health Service).

But there are circumstances where you pay directly (particularly in dentistry). These would normally be called private consultations.

This has no particular implication that the consultation will be intimate, secretive, or involve only you and the physician – simply that you personally will be paying, not the NHS.


The term out of pocket covers expenses that you pay yourself. If you have insurance, your copay is considered an out-of-pocket expense; if you have none, you can say:

This appointment will be fully out of pocket.

I think this is more of a US term in this context. However, I'm with Robusto in favour of this:

I don't have coverage, so I'll pay in cash.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.