Where to Get Lower-Cost and Free Health Services

If you need help paying for health insurance for yourself or your family, low-cost or free programs may help. Whether you are eligible can depend on:

  • Your income
  • Age
  • Location
  • Whether you have insurance
  • What kind of insurance you have
  • Other factors

Below are a few options. It may take some searching, but you can probably find a program to meet your needs.

Marketplace

Your first stop to find out more about your options in getting help to pay for your health care should be your state Marketplace. Every state has a Marketplace. Find yours by going to Healthcare.gov. On the Marketplace, you can find out if you qualify for a tax subsidy to pay for a private insurance plan and cost-sharing subsidies to help you pay for things such as copayments when you go to the doctor. In addition, you can find out if you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a low-cost or even free program for those who qualify. Medicaid provides comprehensive health care, including prescription drugs. States have different rules on who qualifies for Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act provided additional federal funding for states that expanded their Medicaid program to include all people up to 138% of the federal poverty level ($16,242 for individuals or $33,465 for a family of four). As of 2016, 32 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid. Even if you didn't qualify for Medicaid in the past, you may now.

CHIP: Insurance for Kids

If you have children, they may be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance through your state's Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP. Each state decides the income limits and what benefits to offer. However, all states cover:

Hospitals and Health Centers: Lower-Cost and Free Care

The Health Resources and Services Administration helps community health centers, hospitals, and other clinics offer care to low-income people who can't afford it.

Even if you don’t have insurance, you can get low-cost or free health and dental care at certain health care centers in your area. If you don't have insurance, you may be able to work out a payment plan. You can find a list of federally funded health centers here.

You can also receive care at a Hill-Burton Free and Reduced-Cost facility. These are hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities that provide care for people who can't afford it. You can't just walk in and receive free care. You have to apply:

  • Locate a Hill-Burton facility in your area.
  • Go to the facility's admissions office and say you want to apply for Hill-Burton Free and Reduced-Cost care.
  • You may need to show a check stub to prove your income.
  • You'll have to fill out an application and other paperwork.
  • Ask what health services are covered.
  • Ask when you'll find out whether you're eligible.

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Medicare Financial Aid

If you use Medicare to help pay for your health care, you may be able to get some financial aid. This includes Medicare Savings Programs, Part D extra help for prescription drugs, and Medicaid. To find out more about these programs, go to Medicare.gov.

Prescription Drug Assistance Programs

Patient assistance programs are set up by drug companies to help uninsured people get free or low-cost medicines. These programs cover many brand-name medications.

On their web site, Rxassist.org, you can look up the name of your medicine to see if you are eligible and to apply to the program. The site also has discount coupons for some medicines.

In addition, some states have pharmacy assistance programs to help low income patients pay for their prescription drugs. Go to Medicare.gov to find out if your state has a program

Vaccines for Children (VFC)

If you can't afford vaccines for your child, the VFC program may help. Your child may be eligible if she is younger than 19 and is any of the following:

  • Eligible for Medicaid
  • Uninsured
  • Underinsured (you have health insurance, but it covers none or just some of the cost of vaccines)
  • American Indian or Alaska Native

Ask your child's doctor if he or she is a VFC provider. If not, you can find a qualified health center or health clinic through your VFC coordinator.

Veteran's Health Administration

If you are a veteran, you may qualify for free or low-cost treatment at one of 1,700 veteran’s health care facilities. Go to the Veteran’s Health Administration’s website for a list.

Financial Help for Certain Conditions or Groups

You can find links to other low-cost programs on Healthfinder.gov. There are programs for:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Dental care
  • Disabled veterans
  • Eye care
  • Specific diseases
  • The homeless
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sarah Goodell on February 11, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Medicaid.gov.

Department of Health and Human Services: "2013 Poverty Guidelines."

CoverageforAll.org.

American Public Health Association.

InsureKidsNow.gov.

CDC.

Medicare.gov.

RX Assist.org.

NeedyMeds.org.

Patient Access Network.

Health Resources and Services Administration.

Healthfinder.gov: "Low Cost Health Care."

FamiliesUSA: "2013 Federal Poverty Guidelines."

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