7 Organizations That Help Pay for Your Medical Bills
With healthcare costs on the rise, medical debt isn’t always something that you can tackle on your own. There are a number of reasons why individuals go into medical debt — some reasons may include:
- No health insurance, or being underinsured;
- Expensive emergency room visits;
- Long-term hospitalization.
Thankfully, there are altruistic organizations that acknowledge and mitigate these issues. If you’re looking for ways to deal with your medical debt, try getting in touch with the charities listed below for help with your medical bills.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. The HealthWell Foundation
- 2 2. The PAN Foundation
- 3 3. CancerCare
- 4 4. The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC)
- 5 5. NeedyMeds
- 6 6. RxAssist
- 7 7. RxHope
- 8 Additional Resources for Affordable Healthcare
- 9 How to Avoid or Reduce Medical Debt
1. The HealthWell Foundation
The HealthWell Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to “reduce the financial barriers to care for underinsured patients with chronic or life-altering diseases.” Their motivating belief is that no one should be forced to go without essential medical care just because of their financial situation.
To receive assistance you do need to have some form of current insurance covering a portion of your expenses, and you do also need to qualify based on income eligibility.
The foundation covers expenses such as prescription copays, health insurance premiums/deductibles/coinsurance, pediatric treatment costs, and travel costs.
2. The PAN Foundation
The PAN Foundation (or Patient Access Network) recognizes insurance coverage does not necessarily mean that medical bills are cheap for those who require continuous access to medical care. The foundation offers assistance programs for nearly 70 diseases.
Their mission is “to help underinsured people with life-threatening, chronic and rare diseases get the medications and treatments they need by assisting with their out-of-pocket costs and advocating for improved access and affordability.”
The application process is quick and can be completed online or over the phone. An applicant can find out within minutes if they qualify for a year long grant to cover expenses.
There are few ailments that are as widespread as cancer, and few treatments as costly as cancer treatment. CancerCare exists to provide cancer patients with the financial assistance they need to cover things like treatment, counseling, case management, support groups, educational workshops, and community programs.
Their mission is centered on “providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer.” Alleviating the financial pressure that comes with cancer allows patients to focus their willpower on the medical battle that they face, rather than weighing them down with heavy hospital bills.
In order to qualify for this assistance, you need to:
- Have a confirmed cancer diagnosis;
- Be actively in cancer treatment;
- Live within the U.S.;
- Currently live under the Federal Poverty Limit.
4. The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC)
The NAFC is a non-profit organization that has a database of 1,400 free and charitable clinics across the United States. Their mission is “to ensure that the medically underserved have access to affordable quality health care” and “to be a national voice promoting quality health care for all.”
In order to see if you qualify for care at a clinic, you must check the eligibility requirements of the specific clinic you find on their site. Requirements can vary between clinics. It should be noted that not all programs listed on their site are free, some charge a nominal/sliding fee.
Some of the clinics they house include primary medical care, chronic disease care, dental care, behavioral care, mental health care, specialty care, care coordination, health education, immunizations, pharmacy service, and medication access.
NeedyMeds is a nonprofit information source that helps connect individuals to affordable medication and healthcare programs. Their mission is to “educate and empower those seeking affordable healthcare.”
Their site includes a number of healthcare savings resources — some of which include: prescription savings, free/low-cost/sliding-scale clinics, medical transportation savings, and even diagnosis-specific camps/retreats/recreational programs.
If you are unable to find a drug that you are taking on their site, NeedyMeds explains that there is likely no program for that drug. Programs come and go, so you may encounter programs that no longer exist on their site. NeedyMeds points individuals towards both brand name drug assistance, and generic name drug assistance programs.
RxAssist is a web-based medication assistance program. The site offers two options, a healthcare provider center, and a patient center — be sure to select the patient center option. Their mission is to “give providers, advocates, consumers and caregivers comprehensive, up-to-date information” using a database directory of different patient assistance programs available.
Each individual program has its own rules, but some common eligibility requirements include U.S. citizenship, no prescription insurance coverage, and meeting specific program income guidelines. It should be noted that the majority of the medication covered in these programs are brand name specific. For a seamless application process, it may be beneficial to obtain a letter from your insurance provider stating that the medication you are looking for is not covered by insurance.
RxHope is another web-based medication assistance program. The site is very similar to how RxAssist functions, one part of the site is dedicated to healthcare providers, and the other is just for patients or caregivers.
Their mission is to provide “a helping hand to people in need in obtaining critical medications that they would normally have trouble affording.” RxHope acts as “your advocate in making the patient assistance program journey easier and faster by supplying vital information and help.”
A patient can begin the assistance program application online, but applications do need to be completed by a doctor.
Additional Resources for Affordable Healthcare
There are a number of additional resources to consider if you are struggling with medical debt. Below is a list of resources designed to help people afford healthcare.
The United States Government
Although many people don’t think of the government when they need help making ends meet, there are a number of federal and state programs available to help those in need pay their medical bills.
Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for Medicaid — a government-sponsored health insurance program. You also may be eligible to receive the healthcare premium tax credit — a tax credit designed to help low/middle-income families cover their insurance premiums.
Local Community Health Clinics
Hefty medical bills don’t have to ruin your financial health. There’s help available when it comes to finding low-cost medical service access, as mentioned above with the NAFC. Community health clinics can offer preventive care and other forms of primary care without burning through your wallet. Find a community health clinic near you and seek medical care through that clinic before you turn to more expensive providers.
Unfortunately, health care policies are failing patients more and more these days. If you are drowning in medical debt, and you are dealing with this financial crisis without any money, you should utilize crowdsourcing sites/platforms to help with medical bills.
These sites help individuals in need design a fundraising program using platforms with millions of donors and a shareable link. Some are medical funding specific, and others are all-encompassing. Below is a list of different crowdfunding options available:
Churches are often willing to help out members of their congregation in times of need. Churches may have special funding in place to help with emergency situations like medical bills, housing, or food.
If you attend a church, reach out to one of the leaders and explain your situation. They may be able to help with funding directly, or indirectly by bringing it to the attention of a large congregation for a community effort.
How to Avoid or Reduce Medical Debt
Tackling medical debt may involve more than working with a charity or other organization. If you find yourself in medical debt, there are some other options to explore to avoid paying the full amount.
Stay in Constant Communication With Your Insurance Provider
In theory, health insurance should cover a lot of the expenses that you take on for medical treatment. Sometimes, due to miscommunication or mistakes, your insurance may not pay their full share.
It’s always important to check the bills you receive against the explanation of benefits (EoB) you receive from your insurance provider. Make sure that you are not being held liable for payments that your insurance should be making.
You should also check with your health insurance before undertaking serious medical care, if at all possible. Make sure that the healthcare provider you’re working with is in-network, meaning that they are covered by your health insurance at preferred rates. You should also make sure that the treatment you’re receiving is covered by the health insurance plan that you are enrolled in.
Negotiate With the Hospital
Even if you’ve been handed a bill that seems impossible to pay, you may still be able to get the final price down by negotiating with the hospital. Hospital billing departments would often rather see you pay a portion of the total amount than see you go bankrupt and pay nothing at all.
Speak with the billing department and show them documentation proving that you will never be able to pay the full amount that you’ve been billed. They may be willing to settle with you for a lesser amount and a payment program that is more reasonable for your level of income.
Reach Into Your Retirement Account
If you have a retirement account such as a 401(k) or an IRA, you may be able to make a hardship withdrawal. A hardship withdrawal will allow you to pull money from this account without the usual tax penalties that you would get from withdrawing before retirement. However, while doing this may allow you to pay off your medical debt, it can also create problems of its own as you age and get closer to retirement.
Start a Health Savings Account (HSA)
An HSA is a savings account that you can reach into specifically for medical costs. Money that you put into this account is not taxed and it can go a long way towards covering any medical costs that come up.
However, building up an HSA requires a lot of planning ahead of time as well as enough disposable income to put away money into a savings account that only has one purpose. So, while an HSA can help to cover your medical expenses, it may not be an attainable solution for everyone.
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Nick Cesare is a writer from Boise, ID. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and making avocado toast.