If you can't afford medical care or prescription drugs, these state and federal programs may be able to help:
- HealthCare.gov helps you find insurance options, compare care, learn about prevention, and understand the Affordable Care Act.
- State human/social service agencies offer direct aid and referrals to other organizations.
- State Medicaid offices offer help to low-income people.
- Local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offices offer programs designed to help veterans.
- Eldercare Locator information specialists put you in contact with resources and programs designed to help seniors.
- State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) help insure children of working families who cannot afford health insurance or don't get it through their work.
- Benefits.gov allows you to complete a confidential questionnaire and receive a list of programs that may help.
- Local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices help those on Social Security and Medicare. You may also call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.
For Medicare recipients in need of help, contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)
Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), you're guaranteed access to an emergency medical evaluation, even if you can't pay. The act requires hospitals that receive Medicare funding and that provide emergency services to evaluate anyone who comes to their emergency room and requests treatment. If the evaluation confirms that you have an emergency medical condition, including active labor, they are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for you regardless of your ability to pay.
Charity Care Programs
Charity care programs help uninsured patients who can't afford to pay their medical bills and don't qualify for government aid. The patient services department of your hospital can help you find out if you're eligible. If you don't qualify, the hospital may offer you a payment plan.