Every non-profit organization across the country has some kind of charity care process. Basically, charity care offers patients a chance to prove that they don't have the means to cover the entirety of their medical bills by providing financial proof of income. There are basic poverty lines that organizations have to follow, though they can make them even more advantageous for patients. This is a great way to get assistance in paying your medical bills.
The first thing most providers will do is look to see if your income level is such that you should be covered by Medicaid, which is always the first choice. If you are at a Medicaid level and decide you don't want to go for Medicaid, many providers will stop assisting you at that point and make you responsible for the entire bill. Never let pride get in the way of accepting medical payment assistance. If your income is too high for Medicaid, you'll then move into the true charity care application process.
The poverty guidelines can be obtained from your local Department of Social Services, but each medical facility is supposed to have these same guidelines. They're also supposed to have notification of your rights to charity care either posted in the waiting rooms or registration areas, or have flyers of some sort that they can give you highlighting the charity care process. Depending on the facility, you could qualify for a total adjustment of your medical bills, or partial adjustments, usually based on either a 20% or 25% sliding fee scale.
Physicians offices don't often offer charity care options because they don't have to, so it might be better finding government or hospital sponsored clinics for services in those instances. One major thing to remember is that if you need to go to the emergency room, hospitals have to provide treatment, even if you can't pay, based on a law known as EMTALA.
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