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If you need elective surgery and have no insurance, there is one ideal way to get help: find a third party required to pay the expenses.

Looking for grants and free services might make a small dent in your costs. However, the law is on your side and offers better avenues to financial assistance.

You have to know how to exert your legal rights, which may come in government-supported healthcare, disability payments, injury settlements, and charity care.

However, when insurance refuses to cover the procedure, clinical trials and medical residents represent the last resort’s pathway.

Surgery Help for Uninsured

People without health insurance that need elective surgery have multiple places to find financial help. Scheduled operations that are non-urgent come with a hidden luxury – government-supported coverage for medically necessary procedures.

Play your cards correctly to get a third party to fund most of your care.

Table Of Contents

Raising Money

Requesting a medical loan (Affiliate Link) is the fastest way to raise money for urgent surgery that you cannot afford without insurance. If approved, the lender can quickly deposit the funds directly into your checking account, which gives you the flexibility to choose the provider with the most experience and the best reputation for results.

Afterward, you can launch an online fundraiser knowing that you have the luxury of time because the monthly payments span multiple years. Borrow money only when your procedure cannot wait for government-sponsored health insurance to begin.

Government Grants

The federal government does not provide medical grants to individuals for any reason, including surgery. However, the government does offer a far more helpful form of free money for the uninsured: two methods to cover elective procedures that are medically necessary.

State Medicaid

Medicaid often pays for surgery for low-income families, the disabled, pregnant women, and some senior citizens. Federal and state governments co-fund this free or low-cost health insurance that could cover many procedures without delay.

Prospective patients without insurance should first investigate whether they qualify for Medicaid because you can apply anytime during the year. Nothing could be more valuable than an immediate medical grant that includes payments for your procedure and coverage for other health conditions as well!

State Marketplace

The government also provides free money to support private health insurance that pays for surgeries for people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

  • Premium subsidies lower the monthly price of coverage
  • Cost-sharing subsidies limit exposure to deductibles and copayments

Request a health insurance quote (Affiliate Link) to get the ball rolling, or visit your state marketplace. Since you schedule elective procedures at a convenient time, keep these coverage start dates in mind.

  • January 1 of any year if you sign up during open enrollment
  • Right away if you have a qualifying life event: loss of coverage, marriage, etc.

Medically Necessary

Any U.S. citizen should have no reason to pay for an elective surgery without insurance – provided it is medically necessary. As noted above, you have two opportunities to take advantage of the government’s grant money to ensure everyone’s coverage.

You can schedule many elective procedures to coincide with the coverage effective date. Under the ACA, any new plan must cover pre-existing conditions with no waiting period.

Medically necessary means the services diagnose or treat an illness or injury, condition, disease (or its symptoms), and meet accepted medical standards. These non-urgent procedures often fit the definition.

Bariatric weight loss
– Lap Band
– Gastric Bypass
Oral & Maxillofacial
– Impacted wisdom teeth
– Jaw alignment
Joint Replacement
– Knee
– Hip
– Shoulder
Back & Spine
– Scoliosis
– Spinal Fusion
– Spinal Decompression
Cataract replacementIngrown toenails

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery offers a classic example of how previously uninsured patients can use the “government grants” to get their procedure done free. In this case, the precise definition of terms makes a huge difference.

Plastic surgery is often medically necessary because the operations reconstruct facial and body defects. This definition means that your subsidized healthcare might pay for specific procedures, and you could afford to wait for any new plan’s start date.

Skin Removal

Plastic surgery to remove excess skin is sometimes free when covered by your new government-subsidized healthcare. Skin removal is medically necessary when you meet the following conditions.

  • Excess epidermis causes chronic rashes and infections
  • You lost more than 100 pounds and maintained a stable weight since
  • Bariatric surgery was performed at least twelve months prior

Flap Surgery

Flap procedures also fall into the plastic surgery category and could be free to patients when covered by their new subsidized healthcare plan.

Flap surgery is typically medically necessary because it treats an injured area of the body. The specialist transports healthy, live tissue from a donor location with its blood supply intact and transfers it to a damaged recipient area.

However, gum flap procedures for periodontal disease fall into the dental category and assistance requires a different strategy.

Temporary Disability

Temporary disability programs help patients who need surgery but cannot afford to miss work while they recover. People who do not have health insurance might still have income replacement benefits through their state.

Short-term disability often covers recovery from medically necessary procedures after a one week elimination period.  However, only seven states offer such a program.

California  Hawaii  Massachusetts  
New Jersey  New York  Rhode Island  

Collecting Unemployment

Unfortunately, collecting unemployment rarely helps individuals who need surgery but cannot afford to miss weeks of work. The universal criteria across all states are that you must be physically able to work to qualify for benefits.

However, collecting unemployment after recovering from your operation is slightly more viable. At least seven states define an employee’s health problem as a “good cause” reason for job termination.

Arkansas  IllinoisMaine
Texas   MinnesotaWashington
South Carolina    

Lawsuit Settlement

A personal injury lawsuit settlement is another alternative for financial assistance for surgery. Patients without health insurance can sue another party with deep pockets if injured in an accident.

You see this play out frequently with neck and spine injuries in particular.

For example, the auto insurance company for the at-fault driver in a car wreck might be the deep-pocketed entity subject to a lawsuit. Of course, some settlements take years to resolve, so be prepared to wait.

Charity Care

Charity care is another form of monetary aid for surgical patients without health insurance. By law, hospitals and medical centers cannot deny care to anyone with an emergency need.

Many hospital systems offer income-based discounts for uninsured patients. If you cannot work after your incision, make sure to include this new factor in your earnings projections to boost your qualifications.

Surgery Insurance Doesn’t Cover

There at times when insurance does not cover a specific surgery because you are unable to prove medical necessity – and other reasons. You will need to adopt a different approach to find financial assistance or free service in these cases.

Cosmetic Surgery

Finding free cosmetic surgery requires extra creativity because insurance does not cover procedures that reshape healthy tissue to improve appearance. Operations such as mommy makeover, tummy tuck, and gynecomastia are rarely medically necessary.


Free cosmetic surgery clinical trials are a long-shot for your mommy makeover, tummy tuck, gynecomastia, and other operations that enhance symmetry and appearance.

In this case, you play the role of Guinea pig for an experimental device or technique. However, clinical trials designed to find a cure or better treatment for severe medical conditions are easier to find.

Begin by searching one of these online databases of clinical trials. You might find the needle in a haystack.


Volunteering as a test patient for a student cosmetic surgeon could yield discounts on breast augmentation, nose job, eye lift, and other image-enhancing operations – but free is unrealistic.

Chief residents near the completion of their six years of clinical training might perform procedures under faculty supervision. In total, they have ten years of post-graduate education.

A patient who lives near a medical school or teaching hospital could volunteer as a patient so the students can practice their craft at a reduced rate.

Tubal Reversal

Likewise, finding free tubal ligation reversal requires a similar strategy because health insurance does not cover the undoing of voluntary sterilization. Clinical trials, student doctors, and charitable organizations could shave costs a tiny bit.

However, some states have insurance mandates that require coverage for In Vitro Fertilization, which is the primary alternative to having your tubes untied. Check your existing plan to see if the issuing company will pay a hefty portion of the IVF bill instead.