Options for People Without Health Insurance
If you don’t have health insurance, talk to the social worker or patient financial counselor at your hospital or cancer center. You may still be able to get insured through the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Depending on where you live, HealthCare.gov can direct you to the federally run marketplace or to a marketplace run by your state. You also can see if a health insurance broker can help you enroll in a plan that fits your needs so you can start treatment after coverage kicks in. Even though health insurance may seem unaffordable, it’s important to know that hospitals and healthcare providers often enter into contracts with health insurance companies to provide care at lower costs. This means that your healthcare providers bill you at a higher rate if you don’t have any health insurance at all.
If you simply can’t get health insurance or you can’t afford the premiums and out-of-pocket costs, see if your hospital or cancer center offers a discount program for people without health insurance. If it doesn’t, there may be another hospital or cancer center in your area that does. Selected hospitals and other nonprofit medical facilities get money from the federal government to provide free or lower-cost services to people who can’t pay.
There are programs that may help you get coverage or help you pay for treatment costs. Some of these programs have age or income requirements you need to meet before you enroll.
Medicaid is a federal government program that pays for medical care for people whose income and assets are at or below a certain level. Each state administers its own Medicaid program and has its own eligibility guidelines. The easiest way to find out if you’re eligible for Medicaid in your state is to go to the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.
All 50 states plus the District of Columbia provide Medicaid coverage through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program to women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The program offers breast cancer screening to low-income, uninsured women. However, states have different age, income, and other requirements that women must meet to qualify for treatment through Medicaid.
Medicare is a federal government program funded by the Social Security Administration. Medicare offers health insurance to people who meet the eligibility requirements. In most cases, you’re eligible for Medicare if you’re 65 or older or are disabled at any age and have been collecting Social Security benefits for 2 years.
Some states offer state-subsidized health insurance plans for low-income residents. Contact your state’s Department of Insurance office for more information.
Health insurance risk pools are special state programs that offer health insurance to people who have pre-existing medical conditions. However, because the Affordable Care Act prohibits health insurance plans from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, many states have done away with them. Contact your state’s Department of Insurance for more information.
Medicine assistance programs can help you get your prescription medications at a reduced cost or, in some cases, free. Learn more about tips for lowering medicine costs.
Here we discuss various U.S.-based resources and U.S. regulations. Other countries may have different laws regulating health insurance coverage and hospital operations. If you live outside the United States, ask your doctor about resources in your country.
— Last updated on January 21, 2022, 9:21 PM