Many voluntary employee benefits programs provide financial assistance for medical bills and replace income while on leave. Unfortunately, not every employer makes the option available, and not every employee chooses to participate.
Many people regret not purchasing adequate insurance after something bad happens. If you need help paying your medical expenses, you will find that some resources do exist, but come with many limitations.
- Help with income and job protection
- Monetary support for expenses
Financial Assistance for Medical Leave
Financial assistance for medical leave does vary widely based on the state where you work, rather than where you live because the governing laws are job-related. The type of help you may be able to receive during the time you and a caregiver are unable to work falls into two categories: income support, and job protections.
Apply for a short-term loan to provide funding. You may find it very difficult to find ways to replace lost income while one family member is not working, or when two incomes are lost when the caregiver must stop working also.
Five states have mandatory short-term disability programs that provide income support during the medical leave. The income support is not available for caregivers, but does replace a portion of income for the sick or injured person, provided he or she was working for a covered employer.
The five states with such a program are California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
Passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, expanded the use of unemployment compensation during a medical leave. The federal government provided incentives to the states to “modernize” the unemployment compensation programs to include a “compelling family reason.”
Unlike state disability programs, caregivers may qualify for income support when they leave their jobs to care for a sick family member. Six states expand upon compelling family reason definition and include a worker’s own disability.
Supporting Disabled Individual
Supporting Care Givers
|New York||North Carolina||Oklahoma|
|Oregon||Rhode Island||South Carolina|
Family Leave Laws
Many people are familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides workers with unpaid, job-protected leave for twelve weeks. Not every worker qualifies, and sometimes twelve weeks is insufficient when a family member has a long-term condition.
Financial assistance is not a direct benefit of these regulations.
Eleven states have family leave regulations, which fill in some of the holes in the federal law. Either more people qualify for job protections, or they last longer when used in combination. These are the fourteen states with supplemental laws.
Financial Assistance for Medical Bills
Health insurance is the primary form of financial assistance for medical bills in the United States. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, carriers can no longer deny coverage to people, and they must cover pre-existing conditions with no waiting period. Premium and cost-sharing subsidies are available for families with lower incomes.
Apply for a medical loan with high approval rates for immediate funding to address certain bills that always seem to crop up. Every healthcare plan leaves leftover expenses in the form of deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Those uninsured must wait for an open enrollment period to begin coverage.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) provide government sponsored help in paying for medical supplies in the form of first dollar tax savings for those currently working for an employer offering the benefit. Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes regularly purchase supplies that qualify.
Regular, predictable medical bills maximize the value of an FSA. You make a contribution election at the beginning of your plan year, and any leftover expenses revert to your employer because of the use-it-or-lose-it rule.
The federal Assistive Technology Act funds efforts in all fifty states to increase access to assistive technologies for aging and disabled individuals. The financial aid comes in three basics forms: low-interest loans, device and equipment lending programs, and equipment recycling.
You may find help paying for or borrowing these forms of equipment.
- Daily Living Aids
- Augmentative Communication / Sensory Aids
- Computer Hardware and Software
- Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
- Environmental Controls
- Mobility Devices
Cancer patients often struggle to pay medical bills, even when they have health insurance already in place. Many treatments are not covered. Deductibles, copays, and coinsurance add up quickly, and out-of-network charges make matters worse. Lost income and other expenses such as travel costs, lodging, cleaning services also add to the burden.
Personal cancer insurance makes cash payments directly to the insured to fill these gaps. However, you must purchase the policy prior to diagnosis. If a loved one is suffering from cancer, now is the time to buy coverage for yourself.
The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition is a coalition helping cancer patients manage their financial challenges. Their site includes a searchable database of support organizations for your specific diagnosis and within your geographical region.
Cancer Care is a member of this coalition and publishes a page with a long list of government and charitable organizations that may provide some relief.