How To Get Health Care If You Don’t Have Medical Insurance
If you’re an uninsured person who’s behind on payments or unable to cover any cost associated with your healthcare, you’re not alone. Despite more than 90 percent of Americans having some form of healthcare coverage, a recent analysis of medical debt in the U.S. suggests that 1 in 10 American adults owe medical debt.
According to the research, lack of adequate insurance coverage is a major reason why there is so much unpaid medical debt. In most cases, patients would gladly pay for medical services, but they don’t have the money to pay out of pocket. That’s especially true of households with children.
If you received medical care but don’t have the resources to pay, you can take a few steps to receive health care without insurance and get rid of your current medical debt payments.
Contact Ziegler Diamond Law to learn about our consumer debt relief programs today. Continue reading to learn more about getting and paying for healthcare services when uninsured.
What Happens When Someone Doesn’t Have Health Insurance?
Suppose you or a family member has a medical emergency but doesn’t have the income to make payments. In that case, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: hospitals and emergency rooms must provide patients with adequate care in emergency situations, regardless of their insurance status.
The bad news: not having health insurance can lead to:
- Massive medical debt
- Tax penalties
- A higher likelihood of delaying care and worsening medical conditions
Generally, the best solution is to enroll in an affordable health insurance plan when open enrollment begins. However, the data suggests that many Americans simply don’t have the extra money to pay.
Who Pays For Uncompensated Care Costs?
Uncompensated care costs refer to unpaid provider services that insurers, Medicaid, or Medicare don’t reimburse. In most cases, uncompensated care costs occur when patients don’t have the insurance, resources, or income to pay for the cost of care.
There are also many unfunded care costs due to underinsured patients and underpayment from insurance providers. A few federal, state and local government programs offer financial assistance to help offset uncompensated costs.
However, these programs are limited. Generally, healthcare costs from underinsured or uninsured patients are paid by several parties. They include but are not limited to the following:
- Public and private health care practitioners, employees, and institutions
- Federal, local, and state government-funded programs
- Philanthropic donations from national and community organizations
Lacking Health Insurances Is Not That Uncommon
Data from the most recent U.S. Census Report suggests that 19 percent of households in the U.S. can’t afford to pay for medical care right away. That means they must set up a payment plan or take out a loan. In worst-case scenarios, they could leave the debt unpaid.
It’s important to note that 16.2 percent of households with year-round health insurance coverage have medical debt, compared to 30.8 percent of households that were not fully insured.
It’s not the end of the world for people or families not covered by health insurance benefits. However, if not addressed, it could lead to deteriorating health and significant medical debt. Continue reading to learn what happens if you can’t pay your healthcare costs.
What Happens If I Can’t Pay My Healthcare Bills?
The average medical bill can be challenging to understand. Your insurer (if applicable), providers, and eligibility for financial assistance determine if and how much of your medical expenses you’re responsible.
Further, many federal and state-supported laws can protect you and your family from certain healthcare costs. Generally, a few things could happen when you don’t have the budget to afford a medical service you’ve received. They include:
- Negative information on your credit report
- Debt calls and letters from the provider
- The debt gets passed to a third-party medical debt collector
- A medical debt collector sues you for unpaid medical bills
Suppose you can’t pay the amount you owe. In that case, you should seek financial assistance and support from a charity program, negotiate with your providers, and contact a debt attorney as soon as possible. Give us a call today to discuss your financial options.
How Can I Pay For Medical Care If I Don’t Have Health Insurance?
Sometimes, uncompensated care costs are covered by charitable organizations or the government. However, that’s not the case for millions of uninsured patients. If you’re concerned about paying for medical care when you’re uninsured, the experts at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau share the following solutions:
- Negotiate the healthcare bill down to a lower amount that fits your budget
- See if the private or public provider offers interest-free payment plans
- Search for non-profit organizations that have programs to cover uncompensated care costs
- Think twice about using credit cards or taking out loans to pay off the bill
It’s important to note that even if an uninsured person owes the debt, consumer protections are still in place to shield patients from unlawful credit reporting and debt collection activities.
If your health care debt has been wrongly reported on your credit, or you’ve suffered harassment at the hands of healthcare debt collectors, you should seek help from an experienced debt attorney. Otherwise, you’ll have to negotiate with providers and debt collectors on your own, which could result in an unfavorable outcome.
Does The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Offer Free Healthcare Plans?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn’t offer free health insurance to the uninsured. Generally, the ACA has three goals. They include:
- Make affordable health insurance available to more people
- Expansion of the Medicaid program
- Support healthcare innovations that lower the cost of health care
The Affordable Care Act does provide premium tax credits (i.e., subsidies) that can offset some or all monthly premiums. However, in many cases, people will have to wait until they file their taxes during the year to receive these tax benefits.
Tips For Paying Healthcare Costs When You’re Uninsured
In addition to the financial consequences, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) suggests that people experiencing difficulties paying healthcare costs are less likely to adhere to treatment plans.
To alleviate the negative consequences of medical debt, conduct independent research, become more financially literate, seek assistance from local non-profits, search for free insurance plans, and if the debt becomes overwhelming, contact a healthcare debt attorney to discuss your options.
Continue reading to learn a few tips for paying healthcare costs when you are uninsured, or your insurers underpay for your care.
Resolve Your Billing Disputes With Hospitals & Other Providers
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, resolving billing disagreements between patients and providers is much easier now. Since January 2022, healthcare providers and facilities (i.e., hospitals, clinics, etc.) must offer uninsured or self-pay patients a “good faith estimate” before they receive care.
If individuals or families get a bill that’s $400 or more than the original estimate, they can use the “patient-provider dispute resolution” process to lower their bill. You can start your dispute online, by mail, or by fax. It’s important to note that there’s a non-refundable $25 administrative fee to start the process.
Set Up a Savings Account Specifically For The Cost of Health Care
Paying for health care can seem impossible for uninsured families and individuals lacking access to adequate health insurance. That’s especially true if you have children or someone in your family has a chronic illness or disability.
With that in mind, one option is to dedicate a savings account to medical expenses. Although, it’s essential to note that saving for unexpected healthcare expenses can be challenging, especially if you have a limited income and lack financial resources.
Speak With The Hospital About Financial Programs For the Uninsured
Just about every hospital and major healthcare provider offers financial assistance programs for underinsured, uninsured, and vulnerable populations. Your provider may significantly lower your bill, set up affordable payments, or even wipe the debt if you qualify. However, it’s essential to note that financial assistance applications can be complicated, hard to find, and difficult to complete.
Search For Low-Cost Or Free Health Care Options
There are ways to get health care even if you don’t have insurance. It will just require some research and persistence. The most common methods for the uninsured to get health care include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Search for patient assistance programs
- Ask your provider for a discount
- Go to an urgent care provider or walk-in clinic
- Research community healthcare centers
- Enroll in free health screening programs
- Purchase short-term coverage on the Affordable Care Act market exchange
You can still negotiate your debt with your provider if these options fail. Learn more below.
Negotiate With Your Providers
Hospitals and other providers rarely negotiate costs with insurers. That’s because they know they have the resources to pay the bill. On the other hand, public and private providers are usually willing to negotiate with uninsured patients. Start a conversation with your provider if you’ve determined that you are responsible for the medical bill but can’t afford to pay it.
However, in many cases, it’s best to consult a debt attorney before you enter negotiations with providers or debt collection companies. Continue reading to learn how the attorneys at Ziegler Diamond Law can help you reduce and eliminate your debts.
Contact The Attorney Debt Fighters For A Free Consultation
Suppose you owe thousands of dollars for past-due medical bills. In that case, it’s in your best interest to consult with a debt attorney about your financial situation before it deteriorates even more.
At Ziegler Diamond Law, our debt attorneys are dedicated to helping you eliminate and significantly reduce your debt burden. Our attorneys offer the following consumer debt relief programs:
- Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
- Debt collection lawsuit negotiations and defense
- Help with creditor harassment and credit error claims
If you’re tired of the endless calls and letters from medical debt collection agencies, it’s a sign that you need a new approach to debt relief. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a medical debt attorney you can trust.