Medical care is one of those services you don’t think you need till you really need it. If you happen to be uninsured (which a significant percentage of Americans currently are), medical bill costs can be staggering – especially if you’ve undergone some sort of emergency treatment; it’s no secret the surgeries or any treatment that requires specialized facilities and doctors and long stays in the hospital can bankrupt your savings.
There is good news here, however. If you are considered a low income household, there are government, private, and non-profit organizations that offer supplement medical care services to assist you. The hard part here is finding it.
But that’s where singlemoms.org comes in! We’ve done the hard research for you.
Programs for Free Health Care
We look at some health care programs that are free if you are under-insured and / or considered a low income household. Many of these services are local community services while others may be governmental and available nationally. Free health care can include prescription medications, x-ray and lab tests, vision care, doctor visits, and other such services.
Free or Discounted Medication and Medical Services
Pharmaceutical companies provide a number of discounted medications or even free prescriptions to individuals who can’t afford regular costs. There are a number of organized discount programs from which you can buy medications at steeply discounted prices. Then there’s the raft of private charity programs out there that will also assist you with medical costs (free medications, free medical services, etc). Besides the government and charity programs, there’s also community clinics and special programs where medical specialists donate their time to the community, so it’s possible to get free medical or dental check-ups.
Cancer Bill Assistance
If you are diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment, there are some charity programs that may offer financial assistance.
Senior Medical Care Assistance
If you are a senior, it’s possible to find some sort of health care program or referral at your local senior centre. Occasionally, direct medical, eye, medical check-ups, and dental services may be administered directly from a senior centre.
Charity Medical Care Assistance
It’s possible to get *some* free medical care from charities. The funding given out though tends to be extremely limited because of the high demand for the service. The charities that offer free medical care tend to be the larger, well-funded nation ones, but it’s possible to find smaller local charities that might have assistance programs for medical care, prescription drugs, etc.
Government Medical Care Assistance
This is the biggest source of medical assistance. The programs offered are either federal, state, or a combination of both. The big government medical care programs are Medicaid and Medicare and Obamacare, but there are more programs out there as well. You should definitely check the government health website. Obama’s recent health care initiative greatly expanded Medicaid’s coverage of lower income households, so you should look in to see what’s covered now (this reform means more people are covered than before). https://www.healthcare.gov/do-i-qualify-for-medicaid/#howmed
Hospital Charity Medical Care Assistance
Some states do have laws requiring hospitals to provided charity care for patients who can’t afford to pay for the medical services or are underinsured. It’s a good idea to check your state medical laws to see if this is the case. What this means is that you may be able to get emergency treatment at a hospital if you just drop in, even if you can’t afford to pay for the services you use.
Medical Assistance Programs (from Hospitals)
Most health care professionals and facilities (doctors, clinics, hospitals, etc.) usually have some sort of assistance program to help who can’t straight out pay for the medical costs. The type and level of assistance will vary depending on the hospital, etc. You will need to directly contact the billing department where you are receiving treatment – be it the doctor’s office, a clinic office, or the billing department of a hospital. In many cases, you’ll have to explain your financial situation and directly ask if there are any assistance programs you can apply for.
If there is a charity care program (this is the name for this type of financial assistance offered), you will have to apply for it (the office staff should explain the details). You will have to prove your financial situation, however. So be prepared to show proof in the form of mortgage statements, income tax statements, household bills, bank account details etc.
Union Medical Assistance
If you are a member of a union, you may be entitled to a free cash grant of up to $1000 to be used towards your medical costs. Union Plus is the organization that offers this.
Health Care Grants
There are, believe it or not, grants available to help pay for some medical costs if you qualify for the grant/s. The grants can be used towards general medical services, dental, prescription medications, clinic visits, and so on.
These grants may be offered by the government and/or non-profit organizations who sometimes get grant funding from the federal government to distribute as grants to needy individuals. We do recommend you look at your local Community Action Agency which might have information about available grant programs. There are also a couple well-known organizations that deal out these grants – check them out: Healthwell Foundation and United Healthcare Children’s Foundation.
Assistance with Medical Debt
Another form of medical assistance is help with medical debt. Medical debt is something most healthy people never consider, but if you end up in an emergency situation and limited insurance, you’ll quickly find out just how quickly you can rack up colossal medical bills to the point you can’t afford to pay them.
The help you can get here can help renegotiate your debt obligations, come up with better repayment plans, and knock off unnecessary charges and even financial help with paying them.
Medical Bill Negotiator
If you have large medical bills, consider hiring a professional medical bill negotiator is advised. These professionals only take fees IF they save you money, so if nothing is saved, you won’t pay a dime. There is a very high chance a negotiator can get your bill amounts lowered, sometimes significantly.
Medical Bill Advocate
Unlike the Medical Bill Negotiator, the Advocate doesn’t try and negotiate for lower payments due to financial hardship, but the difference is an Advocate will look at your medical bills and determine if there are any billing errors. They will fight to ensure you are charged fair rates.
State Laws Protection
There’s a certain level of protection offered by the state for individuals in medical debt who cannot pay. Regulations forbid certain debt collection practices, excessive interest rate charges, etc. Make sure you read your state’s legislation regarding medical debt and what’s allowed and what’s not allowed by collectors trying to collect the debt from you.
It’s possible to contact your medical debt holder and negotiate a settlement. If it’s between getting nothing due to you going bankrupt and defaulting on the debt and you paying SOMETHING, your debt holder may opt for the later. You should contact a lawyer or a medical debt negotiator who specializes in this sort of thing, however. Absolutely do your research first.
Medical Debt Consolidation
It’s possible to save money by consolidating your different medical debts under one. This works similar to loan consolidation. The end result is you can restructure your payment amounts to be less and with less interest. You need to consult a professional about how to do this, however.
There are some programs offered that target dental care. However, the funds tend to be limited and the demand high. Dental is often not deemed as ‘critical’ health care, which is why dental is often left in the hands of the private sector with few government backed initiatives that offer dental assistance to people who can’t afford coverage.
Discount Dental Plans
It’s possible to sign up for discount dental programs which function as dental insurance of sorts. With the proper plan, you may save up to 50 percent of the costs you would normally pay.
Government Medial Debt Assistance
The federal government does include limited dental assistance in their Medicaid, Medicare, and State Children’s Health Insurance, but the coverage can vary depending on the state. Most government programs only will cover essential ‘dental’ treatments not cosmetic or non-critical services (which make up the majority of dental work you may need).
In terms of actual medical debt, most of the government programs offer assistance for free medical care, but not existing debt.
Charity / Nonprofit Dental Assistance
There may be charities or organizations that offer free dental care to the needy. Quite often, these are powered by volunteer work by dentists and other professionals.