Health is an important part of life. Health issues can be expensive, and keeping up with healthcare costs can be overwhelming. Luckily, the federal government understands how hard this can be for Americans. That is why they offer a variety of healthcare assistance options for those in need.
Healthcare Assistance Options
Health can look different for a lot of people. That is why there are a variety of programs that may be able to help those in need like:
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Supplemental Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI)
- Veteran Healthcare Assistance
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Even though CHIP is considered a federal program, it is run by the state. This means each program will look different depending on which state you are in. CHIP aims to provide low-cost health coverage to eligible families. Families that make too much for Medicaid but don’t make enough to handle the costs of private insurance will be the ones to benefit. Even though the program varies by state you can generally expect this program to offer comprehensive coverage like routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, and prescription coverage. Even though this program is designed for children, some states may offer to extend coverage to pregnant women as well. For more information about covered services you would need to check with your state.
The application period for CHIP isn’t like a traditional health insurance plan where there is open enrollment. Instead, CHIP applicants can apply any time of year. If you are interested in submitting an application you will need to check with the CHIP office in your state. You can also visit InsureKidsNow.gov or call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) for more information.
This is a popular government assistance program for people who struggle to handle the costs of healthcare. Medicaid is state-run so coverage will vary by state but it aims to provide free or low-cost health coverage to eligible Americans. Since the program varies by state, so do the eligibility requirements. However, generally applicants must meeting the following conditions:
- Be a citizen or have a qualifying citizenship status.
- Be a resident of the state where the application was submitted.
- Deal with financial hardship currently.
Medicare is commonly confused with Medicaid. This is a health insurance program for individuals at least 65 years old or for those under 65 if they meet specific criteria. If an individual under 65 years old has a certain disability or has End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) then they may also be eligible to receive Medicare.
Medicare can be understood in four different parts. When a person first enrolls in Medicare, they will have “Original Medicare” which generally consists of parts A and B. People don’t need Part B if they have another source of coverage that covers what Part B does. Medicare can feel complex to figure out but luckily there are free sources of information online that can help. You can get started by checking out Medicare.gov!
Supplemental Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI is a federal program provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This assistance option pays disability benefits to individuals that have worked long enough and have a medical condition that prevents them from working for at least one year (12 months) or is expected to end in death.
Eligibility for this program includes:
- The inability to work due to a medical condition that is set to last for at least one year or result in death.
- Not having a partial or short-term disability.
- Meet the SSA definition of a disability.
- Have enough work credits.
The SSA has a free tool that people can use to help determine their eligibility. You can check out the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool to see if you may be eligible.
Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI)
SSI and SSDI are commonly confused since they have similar names. However, the SSI program is different from SSDI and it is important to know! SSI is a program that gives financial assistance to eligible individuals. The biggest difference between SSI and SSDI is the fact that SSI eligibility is based on age, disability status, and income while SSDI is based on disability status and work credits.
Veteran Healthcare Assistance
The Veteran Health Administration (VHA) is an integrated health care system in America that can provide care to the veteran enrollees of the VA healthcare program. This VHA includes 1,293 healthcare facilities. 171 are VA Medical Centers and 1,112 are outpatient sites of care that vary in complexity. There are millions of veterans that are enrolled in the VA healthcare program and these facilities provide a variety of services like critical care, mental health, radiology, orthopedics, surgery, pharmacy, and physical therapy.
Alternatives to Consider
Besides federal assistance options, there may be other options to consider when looking for healthcare assistance. Options to think about include:
- Hospital Payment Plans
- Clinical Trials
- Free Clinics
- Prescription Discount Cards
Hospital Payment Plans
If you can’t afford the costs of health coverage, you may be able to set up flexible payment programs with the hospital you go to. Even if you pay for the expenses out of pocket, you may be able to negotiate a lower price and even find a payment plan that works for your financial situation. Hospitals understand that some people deal with financial hardship so they may offer more flexibility than you realize! For more information you will want to get in touch with your hospital finance counselor.
If you have a health condition that you want to treat then you may benefit from checking out clinical trials. Clinical trials are a kind of study that tests treatments currently in development. A majority of clinical trial patients do not need to pay anything in order to be a part of the study. If you are an eligible candidate, you may be able to benefit from the treatment that is getting tested.
Another place to consider receiving healthcare assistance would be at a free clinic. Free clinics can provide a variety of care like medical, dental, and pharmaceutical services for free or at a highly discounted rate. Free clinics are not available everywhere and aim to only help those in financial need who also generally do not have health insurance.
Prescription Discount Cards
More and more people have been using prescription discount cards to help deal with their healthcare bills. Prescription discount cards can help people get a lower drug cost if they pay for their medications in cash. There are also plenty of different cards that you can choose from and a majority of programs are completely free (even if you don’t have insurance!).
Many people don’t realize that there are a bunch of programs available when it comes to healthcare assistance. Even if you are unable to get help from a healthcare assistance option, there are alternatives that you can consider that still may be able to help. If you need extra assistance when dealing with healthcare costs then you should reach out to a patient advocate at the facility where you want to get treatment. They may be able to provide you with more information!