Where do you turn for help paying medical bills that you cannot afford?
No single grant or government program offers the complete answer.
However, you can find many resources that offer modest financial assistance for qualifying patients with specific needs or certain illnesses.
Every penny counts when you are struggling to pay your doctor or hospital. Therefore, it makes sense to look under every possible rock to cobble together a solution.
You will be surprised to learn about the many programs offering assistance for people open to diligent legwork and creative labels.
Grants to Help Pay Medical Bills
Grants that you can use to pay medical bills are the ideal form of financial assistance – provided you can find an entity willing to give you free money that you do not have to repay.
You are unlikely to find a grantor willing to cut you a check to retire outstanding charges from a dentist, doctor, or hospital. However, you can sometimes identify alternatives.
Medical Debt Relief Grants
Grants providing medical debt relief are an elusive target. Few entities will offer free money directly to consumers to pay off dental, doctor, and hospital charges.
However, another alternative might accomplish the same objective.
Do you qualify for debt relief? (Sponsored Link) A debt settlement program means that you consolidate your payments to multiple creditors to negotiate relief. If successful, the companies agree to forgive a portion of what you owe for immediate partial payment.
You might be eligible for debt relief if you meet two criteria.
- Owe more than $10,000 in unsecured debt
- Unpaid medical bills
- Personal loans
- Credit card balances
- Have enough income to fund an escrow account
- 1/3 of the amount owed
- Within 24 to 36 months
Many charitable organizations offer grants to help you pay your medical bills or other related expenses. Because these non-profit entities often rely on the generosity of donors, their ability to provide financial assistance often falls short of the overwhelming demand.
Plus, charitable organizations come in all shapes and sizes, serving consumers nationwide or at the state, county, city, or town level. Therefore, a comprehensive, online database is perhaps the ideal starting point. Below are several valuable resources that point you in the right direction.
- Aunt Bertha’s network connects people seeking help and verified social care providers that serve them
- The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics maintains an online database searchable by zip code
- The Patient Advocate Foundation identifies external programs and organizations that may potentially be able to assist patients based on entered selection criteria
Grants for Hospital Bills
Hospital bill grants are also tough to find because low-income families have fewer excuses for being uninsured than in the past (see government programs below).
Once again, an alternative solution might be more viable.
Hospital charity care (unpaid services) can act as grants for patients who are uninsured, underinsured, or ineligible for other government programs such as Medicaid. People who meet income and asset requirements can receive financial aid to cover medically necessary services in acute care inpatient and outpatient facilities.
Each state has unique hospital charity care rules and regulations, as evidenced by these examples.
Grants to help Covid-19 survivors pay for their extensive medical bills are also elusive because the charges for patients hooked to a ventilator while in the intensive care unit (ICU) are astronomical – meaning few entities have sufficient resources.
However, other alternatives might help some former Coronavirus patients – at least temporarily.
- Private health insurance companies agreed to waive all cost-sharing (deductible, copayments, and co-insurance) for Covid-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment performed before a designated date
- America’s Health Insurance Plans publishes an online directory summarizing the policies of their member providers, noting the expiration date of each benefit
- The Health Resources & Services Administration reimburses participating providers who treat uninsured patients for Covid-19 and prohibits balance billing
Government grants for medical bills are scarce because few federal or state agencies issue awards directly to individuals. Instead, the grant money flows from the government to universities, agencies, and non-profit organizations to fund ideas and projects to foster a public service or stimulate the economy.
Begin at the Grants.gov website to track streams of free money that trickle down to end-point entities. If lucky, you could find a recipient near you that assists consumers with unpaid dental, doctor, and hospital bills.
Government Programs to Help Pay Medical Bills
Individuals can find an array of government programs that might help pay past and future medical bills, provided you open your mind to creative labels.
You will be hard-pressed to find government loans for medical bills because federal and state agencies typically do not lend money to consumers – unless you want to attend college.
Request a personal loan here (Sponsored Link) from a private lender (not a government agency). If approved, use the funding to retire existing debts from doctors, dentists, and hospitals. Repay the money in equal monthly installments that include interest and origination fees.
Your local state agency manages medical assistance programs in collaboration with the federal government under the better-known name: Medicaid for low-income families and pregnant women.
Medicaid might pay for doctor, hospital, and prescription drug expenses three months retroactively if you were previously uninsured. Therefore, it makes sense to apply to see if you qualify.
- Begin at the healthcare.gov website to initiate your application
- Pregnant women should count their unborn babies as household members to boost their chances of approval
Federal government subsidy programs make health insurance more affordable, which is the most effective way to pay doctor, hospital, and prescription medicine bills when somebody is sick or badly injured.
Begin at the healthcare.gov website once again to initiate your application. You could qualify for two income-based subsidies that lower your financial obligation.
- Premium subsidies lower the cost of maintaining coverage
- Cost-sharing subsidies reduce expenses when using the coverage
Government programs also help pay medical bills after insurance processes claims. Several laws protect patients from surprise charges from out-of-network providers when they suffer health emergencies.
On the federal level, an interim final rule restricts excessive out-of-pocket costs after insurance to consumers from surprise balance billing, effective January 1, 2022. Surprise billing happens when people unknowingly get care from providers outside of their health plan’s network.
The nationwide interim final rule bans surprise balance billing under several circumstances:
- Emergency services, regardless of where they are provided
- Ancillary services (anesthesiologist) at an in-network facility
- Other out-of-network charges without advance notice
Meanwhile, many state-specific laws offer similar legal protections enacted earlier than January 1, 2022. Research the balance billing laws in your state for help with immense charges that you cannot afford.
The Internal Revenue Service offers a government program that helps pay your medical and dental bills indirectly. Your unreimbursed expenses are tax-deductible, meaning you could have three ways to reduce your tax obligation.
Use the savings from these three programs to retire debts owed to doctors, hospitals, and dentists.
- Itemizing medical & dental expense deductions using Schedule A, which you include with Form 1040 each year when you file
- Covering qualified expenses by paying from your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) helps you reduce FICA levies in addition to federal income taxes
- Reimbursing yourself from your Health Savings Account (HSA) for expenses incurred while you have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) in effect
Disability insurance is another government program that helps pay medical bills indirectly. Many people cannot work due to health problems, meaning they lose an income at the most inconvenient time.
Lost income makes it even more challenging to stay current on regular obligations, not to mention extra charges from dentists, doctors, and hospitals. Fortunately, disability insurance often assists some people with partial wage replacement.
- State-based temporary disability insurance covers non-occupational health problems lasting six to twelve months for people working in eight states
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Puerto Rico
- Worker’s Compensation provides wage support across the country for people suffering on-the-job accidents and illnesses
- Social Security Disability offers two insurance programs nationwide for people dealing with permanent health problems
- SSDI: for former workers who paid FICA taxes
- SSI: for people with minimal resource