The costs of everyday expenses — food, gas and housing — can quickly deplete a person’s financial resources leaving little left over for unexpected costs. People without health insurance coverage may face an even more daunting dilemma when injury or illness occurs. Fortunately, there are government and community programs and facilities available to provide medical care at little to no cost.
Medicaid health care coverage is a federally-funded program that’s administered by each individual state. Eligibility for Medicaid coverage depends mostly on a person’s income, though individuals who are blind or elderly may also qualify. Income level requirements can vary from state to state as each state determines how its Medicaid program is run and sets its own eligibility requirements. In some cases, a person may have to pay a small copayment amount for doctor visits depending on state requirements. Doctors and service providers are paid directly by Medicaid for any services provided. Applications for Medicaid are taken at state and local Department of Health & Human Services offices.
Hill-Burton Free and Reduced-Cost Health Care
The Hill-Burton Free and Reduced-Cost Health Care Program was started by the federal government in 1946 by a law that required certain hospitals and health care facilities to provide free and reduced-cost medical care to low-income individuals and families. Facilities that participate in this program are obligated to provide low-cost services whenever someone applies for assistance. A state-based list of Hill-Burton main offices appears on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website (see Resources). These offices can refer interested applicants to local facilities where people can apply for the program. Eligibility requirements can vary from state to state with some states requiring applicants to apply for Medicaid assistance beforehand.
Health Care for the Homeless
People who have little or no resources in terms of money or housing may qualify for free medical care from facilities that participate in the Health Care for the Homeless Program. The Health Care for the Homeless Program is a federally-sponsored program that provides free medical care for people affected by homelessness. A state-based listing of participating providers is available at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council website (see Resources). People can also get information on the whereabouts of facilities from their local Department of Health & Human Services office.
The Health Resources and Services Administration — a branch of the Department of Health & Human Services — sponsors a nationwide network of health centers specifically designed to provide health care services to people who can’t afford to pay. Eligibility requirements go by income level and use a sliding-fee scale that’s based on a person’s ability to pay for services. Health centers are community-based facilities that offer a range of medical care services, some of which include dental care, checkups and mental health treatment. A list of available facilities can be found at the Health Resources and Services Administration site (see Resources).