Medical bills and other expenses associated with care can add up quickly, particularly when dealing with a serious illness. Health insurance often covers a large portion of the cost, but people without insurance or who require procedures or treatments that are not covered by their insurance policies often find themselves in need of medical financial help. The best places to find medical financial help are government agencies, disease-specific agencies and foundations, private charities and local groups, and programs through individual hospitals and doctors' offices.
Government agencies in many countries include provisions to help low-income, uninsured individuals with medical financial help. Some of these programs apply to specific categories of people, such as children, the elderly, or families who are below the poverty line. The best way for patients to find information on this type of medical financial help is to speak with their doctors about information or contact their local social services office for information on different programs. Most government-funded programs require patients to apply and go through an approval process before they can receive financial benefits.
Many areas have free or low-cost clinics, run either by the government or private institutions, designed for people who are uninsured and need medical financial help. These clinics may have requirements their patients must meet in order to receive care, such as providing proof of income or other documentation that demonstrates their medical financial help needs. Local social services workers and regional health departments are usually a good source of information regarding free or low-cost clinics.
Disease-specific agencies and organizations often operate on a national level and many provide financial help for patients diagnosed with certain illnesses or conditions. Some of these organizations focus on specific parts of the body or certain symptoms, such as agencies for kidney disorders or those that focus on pain management. Other agencies provide information and resources, often including financial help, for patients diagnosed with very specific problems, such as diabetes.
Private charities and local groups, such as churches and civic foundations, can sometimes provide medical financial help for patients who are unable to find help through other sources. These groups often have more freedom in how they offer assistance, so they may help patients with other bills during times of medical problems or provide other means of financial support. Many local groups will organize fundraisers and events to help people in the community who are having difficulty managing their medical expenses.
Individual doctors and hospitals often have programs in place to lower the total bill or arrange payment installments for patients who need medical financial help. Uninsured patients should always speak with someone in the billing department about any programs they have for people with financial need. These programs may require an application process.