Sudden and unexpected medical problems are frightening and stressful. In the US, they can also be expensive and potentially bankrupting—even with health insurance. Medical debt is the most common reason people declare bankruptcy in the US.
Whether you have insurance or not, you may be wondering how to pay for the medical bills you and your family are facing—with costs including lost income, surgery, follow-up care, rehab, medications, and more.
Crowdfunding can be a real lifesaver. And crowdfunding on YouCaring is free. We never take a penny of the funds people raise for ourselves. And best of all, your fundraiser gives your friends and family a way to support you both financially and emotionally as you face this challenge.
Understanding Your Medical Bills
Imagine you received an unexpected and major medical expense and have little money to pay the bills. Distressed by the situation and fearful of the potential of medical debt, you may be wondering how to pay for medical bills without insurance. But it is important to address them as soon as possible. Ignoring them can lead to serious repercussions down the line. The first step is taking measures to understand your medical bills.
- In order to catch potential billing mistakes go over your bills carefully to make sure that you weren’t charged for services or treatments that you didn’t receive.
- Ask the hospital about getting on a payment plan that doesn’t charge interest. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the monthly payment for something that will be manageable.
- Consider using a resource like Copatient who will help educate you on your expenses, negotiate the bills on your behalf, and offer payment advice.
Despite the Affordable Care Act’s debut on January 1, 2014, 16 percent of Americans remain uninsured, according to a recent Gallup poll. That’s millions of people, many of whom are uninsured because they can’t afford health insurance.
Who Is Uninsured
One of the most common reasons Americans are not insured is the Medicaid gap, a big problem in today’s healthcare. The ACA required states to provide Medicaid coverage for adults aged 18 to 65 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level, along with tax credits for people with incomes between 100 and 400 of the federal poverty level to buy private insurance plans in the Marketplace. But those with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level fall through the cracks—their incomes are too high to get Medicaid but too low to qualify for help buying private insurance.
Another group of people who are commonly uninsured are undocumented immigrants, and the Affordable Care Act does little to change that. But while the health care options for undocumented immigrants are limited, there are a few solutions. Student health plans, private insurance companies, and employer-based health insurance are some health care options that generally don’t question immigration status. Some state-funded healthcare programs, like Medi-Cal in California, grants some undocumented immigrants insurance. Check your state’s health care office to see if you qualify.
What to Know About Being Uninsured
Twenty-six states expanded their Medicaid programs to fight the Medicaid gap, so if you live in one of these states and make up to 16,105 a year for 1 person (32,913 for a family of 4) you’ll probably qualify. Check Healthcare.gov to see if your state expanded Medicaid—if it has not, call your state Medicaid office to ask if you qualify. Many low-income Americans will still qualify for some kind of state health coverage.
Some other important facts to know:
- If you don’t have income, and can’t afford health insurance, the federal government does not require you to get it, and won’t fine you if you don’t have it. The rule is if you don’t make enough money to file a federal tax return, you don’t need to pay for federally mandated health insurance.
- If the cheapest policy you can get costs more than 8 percent of your income, you don’t need to get health insurance. Keep an eye out when you file your taxes—you should get an exemption from the coverage requirement.
- If you get a new job, that new income could require you to get health insurance. Check the requirements for every new job to make sure you don’t get fined for being uninsured.
- If you are paying more than 9.5 percent of your income for an employer-based insurance plan, you should qualify for exchanges or federally-subsidized coverage in the new insurance markets.
Problems and a Few Solutions
While all this information is important to know, there will always be some Americans who still can’t afford health insurance. Many of them will not be immune to illness and disease and will end up racking up thousands of dollars in debt from unexpected trips to the hospital and life-saving surgeries.
So if you’re faced with medical bills you can’t afford, what can you do?
Negotiate. Some hospitals will allow you to negotiate your bills and can help you set up a payment plan that will make paying them easier. Don’t be shy, to be honest with your doctor about what you can and can’t afford to pay.
Review all your bills for extra costs you shouldn’t pay. Often hospital bills have errors and overcharges, so as with any receipt, make sure you check to make sure you aren’t paying for any services you didn’t receive. Some common mistakes include charging patients a full day when they were discharged in the morning, charging patients for medications when they brought their own and charging patients for supplies like gowns, gloves, and sheets (these should be included in the daily room charge already).
Take to the web. If you’ve exhausted all your options and still find yourself faced with mounting debt, you may want to try online crowdfunding websites to help with medical bills. Personalized fundraising campaigns allow friends and family from around the world to contribute and create a central location for love and support. Sites like YouCaring have already helped people raise millions of dollars to help pay off medical bills.
How Crowdfunding Can Help
You may be asking, but how can crowdfunding help my situation? Crowdfunding has gained popularity in recent years due to its ability to connect worthy causes to willing potential donors. Not only does crowdfunding make it easier for friends and family to donate to your cause as well as check up on the progress of the beneficiary, it also expands your pool of donors exponentially.
- No family or individual should have to face a scary medical situation without the support of friends and family.
- Crowdfunding can deliver both emotional and financial support when you’re facing unexpected medical situations.
- Supplementing an offline fundraising event with your online campaign is an ideal way of bringing in as many donations as possible.
Fundraising Ideas to Help Pay Out of Pocket Expenses
1. A Run for Your Money
If you’re looking for a challenge, try participating in an ultramarathon. You can ask for sponsors from your own network of friends, family, and colleagues, who pledge to donate an allotted amount for each mile you complete. People can donate via your crowdfunding campaign. Don’t forget to keep people updated with any news regarding the beneficiary.
2. Fun For the Whole Family
Host a community picnic at a local park with games like cornhole, sack races, and watermelon-eating contests to bring everyone together to support your cause. You can whip up some sandwiches, fruit salads, and cheese platters for everyone to enjoy while they chat, hang out or play games. Charge a donation for the admission price via your online campaign. This will give the donor access to as much food as they want. You can even charge a small amount for the games to bring in more funds.
3. A Game of Chance
Bingo is a fun game to play with a large group of people, which makes it perfect for a fundraising event. To pull off this fundraising event you will need bingo supplies. You can hand make them. Or use a pre-made one, since a lot of websites offer free printable bingo cards. Next, you will need to secure a venue that can seat a large amount of people comfortably. People can buy bingo cards via online donations to your campaign. Specify the amount for single card or unlimited cards via an update on your campaign page.
Great YouCaring Medical Fundraiser Examples
DIY Pop-Up Restaurant
Eden Brewer decided to share something special with her community by cooking up a few batches of her favorite food, tacos, as a fundraising event. Eden has been battling Leukemia for over a year but remains excited to experience a fulfilling childhood. Unfortunately, medical bills leave a dent in a family’s finances. The Brewer family organized a pop-up taco shop at a local restaurant that brought together neighbors for a tasty snack and rallied support for Eden.
Break a Sweat
Spinning has become increasingly popular in recent years as a fun way to get in shape. Indoor cycling classes usually feature fun and loud music paired with an enthusiastic instructor to get those legs moving. Glenn Hartrick was in a serious crash that left him paralyzed from the chest down but in the spirit of compassion, his friends hosted a spin class to help pay for his medical bills. They paired the spin class with bag giveaways and other swag such as water bottles. And Glenn’s campaign page has already brought in more than $10,000 for his cause.
Start Receiving Donations
If you are wondering how to pay for medical bills without insurance then look to crowdfunding for relief. YouCaring provides individuals with a platform that is both fast and free to meet their needs. Try out one of our fundraising ideas and fundraising tips or brainstorm some of your own to complement your campaign.