Negotiating Medical Debt (continued)

(b)  Apply for indigent care.  To help those with little or no income obtain health care, many hospitals provide what is referred to as "uncompensated health care" for those who cannot pay their hospital bills.  In your city, such care might be referred to as bad debt cases, community care or indigent care.  In these circumstances, the hospital will provide free care to those patients who cannot afford to pay.  Just what funds are available in your area depend on the general socio-economic variables in your city.   Ask the financial counselor at the hospital for information about these programs and if you qualify.  Generally, one must meet certain conditions to qualify for indigent care.  Typically, hospitals usually provide such coverage only to those who are not eligible for federal and state government medical assistance or those who cannot pay their medical bills on the basis of income. 

In order to verify your status as a bona fide indigent patient, the hospital will check to make sure that you are not covered by any insurance plan.  Applicants must submit their tax returns, W-2 pay stubs, bank statements, and general proof of monthly debt payments and living expenses.  Applicants must submit to an interview with the hospital's financial counselor where it will be determined if the applicant can make monthly payments or qualifies for complete debt relief.  The counselor might assist the applicant in applying for any state or federal relief programs available and will submit a recommendation to a committee for final approval. 

(c)  Seek help from charitable foundations, civic organizations, churches and community groups.  Although it will require a major time investment, you might be able to obtain free medical care or assistance from any of these organizations.  Find out if you qualify for any free or low-cost medical services available in your area by visiting the following link:  http://ask.hrsa.gov/pc/  or by researching the Internet to find free or low-cost medical help in your area.  For example, if you resided in New York, you could go to google.com and type in the following:  +"free health care" +New York

(d)  Visit our Ways to Save Money section for tips on getting free or low cost medical care and prescription drugs.

Option 3.  Appeal Unfavorable Medical Insurance Decision.  If you have medical insurance, but your insurance company decided not to cover a specific procedure for some reason, you should formally appeal the decision.  Information about medical appeals and a sample appeal letter are provided.



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