If you do not have health insurance and have to go to the hospital, ask to apply for free care funds. Many hospitals throughout the country have access to private donations, specifically for patients who cannot pay their bills. Some public hospitals cater specifically to those who are uninsured or have lower incomes. A list of these hospitals can be found at the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, www.naph.org.
On the other hand, many hospitals will get reimbursed by the state for medical costs through special programs. One such program that provides federal funding to hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities so that they can provide free care is called the “Hill- Burton” program. These facilities choose the specific services that they will offer for free or at a lower cost to those that qualify. To find the closest Hill-Burton facility to you, go to www.hrsa.gov/hillburton/hillburtonfacilities.htm or call 1.800.638.0742 (1-800-492-0359 in Maryland).
If you can feel the hospital can provide a service that you cannot afford, call the patient services department or get in touch with the hospital’s social worker and ask to be assisted in helping you locate a financial program that may be available for you.
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|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|