Help Paying Hospital Bills. Many people need help with hospital bills. The assistance program in your hospital can be a great benefit. No one wants unpaid medical bills, that can destroy credit. Hospital bills can quickly mount up when you do not have insurance. Assistance programs help low-income patients with “medically necessary” inpatient and outpatient hospital services.
Patients pay according to their family income and ability to pay. Medical bills are one of the most common issues that can destroy your credit and affect your financial stability. Every hospital determines how their financial program works and what procedures they cover. To find out if your hospital provides financial-aid services, contact Patient Accounts or the billing department. You can also call the local Department of Health & Human Services, to find what medical assistance programs are available in your city.
Get Help Paying Hospital Bills
The Affordable Care Act is helping those once unable to get insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Obamacare is still very expensive, and out of reach for those who make too much for a subsidy. Some people make too much money to qualify for the Affordable Care subsidy but cannot afford them to pay for medical care. The cost of healthcare is out of reach for many, sometimes living a life without insurance. One medical emergency can result in devastating financial hardship.
You may be eligible for charity assistance, or hospital financial aid programs to pay hospital bills. If you are uninsured and gross family income is at, or below Federal Poverty Guideline. Many major hospitals have a charity program for disadvantaged patients. Surprisingly, many people are not aware that this type of help is available for medical bills.
Hospital Bill Charity Assistance
You do not automatically qualify for billing assistance, just because you do not have the money to pay the bill. There are financial guidelines that must be met, in order to qualify for help paying medical bills. The hospital financial aid or charity program is for very low-income patients. See Graph Below.
Your annual income must not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level to qualify for 100% coverage. If your family income is more than the limit, you may be eligible for some type of financial aid. If your medical bill exceeds the medical debt-to-income ratio by 30% the hospital may cover a portion of your bill.
What Steps do I need to take?
To be considered for assistance with hospital bills, some facilities want you to us any available resources, such as savings, cash on hand, investments etc. In cases of extreme medical hardship resulting from treatment for cancer, etc. primary and secondary insurance must have been used first.
Applying for Charity Assistance
- Make an appointment
- Bring proof of identity
- Present proof of income
- Sign consent for pulling your w-6
Hospital Social Services will also screen the patient or patients guardians to see if they a patient qualify for assistance from federal and state aid programs and help clients apply for Medicaid. If all avenues have been used and you can not pay the remainder of your medical bills, contact hospital bill department for other remedies.
What will I need to apply?
To be considered for assistance you will be required to provide documentation of your financial situation. Be prepared present proof of your annual income for everyone in the household. If you are not working, you must show proof you are receiving assistance such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Women Infant and Children assistance (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Social Security Assistance), etc.
The hospital sliding fee scale will pay from 10 to 100% of the patients care. Charity care will pay based on the client’s gross family income. The lower the income the greater amount of the bill is covered. Many hospitals have a variation of this discount program. The program is not highly advertised, so it is up to you to ask about it.
Negotiating your Hospital Bills
There are many who do not have medical insurance and do not qualify for the sliding scale program. The worse thing you can do is not communicate when you have outstanding hospital bills. The good news is, hospitals are very willing to work with your concerning your bill when you negotiate! The hospital will also give you up to a 50% discount when you pay your total balance in cash. If you are unable to pay the entire bill, they can arrange a payment plan for you. This is good because as long as you pay your bill as agreed, this will keep it from going to collections.
U.S. Government Poverty Guidelines for the 2016 calendar year.
Other Places to get Help
National Jewish Health Financial Assistance
National Jewish Health helps low-income patients with medical bills, regardless of religion or ability to pay. They also have their own medical financial assistance program NJFAP. Their policy is to assist low-income and disadvantaged patients. If approved you can receive full or partial assistance.
The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFCC)
The NAFCC is a non-profit organization that helps patients locate affordable healthcare. If you do not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or have insurance the NAFCC can help you find the care you deserve. Their referral program directs those that need help to over 1,200 free community clinics.
The Access Project
Founded in 1998, The Access Project (TAP) is a nonprofit organization committed to helping families struggling with medical debt. Their goal is to support communities and improve healthcare and increase options for needy families needing medical care.
The Access Project’s provides Medical Debt Resolution that works with insurance and medical care providers. They also offer financial help to pay medical bills and other debt associated with medical care. They also work with other assistance programs that give aid.
The Access Project
30 Winter Street,
7th Floor Boston, MA 02108