The cost of some medical procedures can literally add insult to injury. Even if you have an insurance policy for healthcare expenses, pre-deductible and out-of-pocket costs can quickly escalate. When you add these expenses to lost wages during recovery, the total bill can be pretty steep. If you’re in need of surgery assistance, look to the resources below for help.
Hospital and insurer programs
If you don’t have an insurance policy and need financial help to pay for surgery, don’t be afraid to ask if you qualify for a financial aid program provided by your hospital or insurer. Many hospitals and insurance companies offer assistance for people with lower incomes or few resources. You will likely need to submit an application to qualify. Even if you don’t qualify for aid, the hospital may offer you a low- or no-interest payment plan. Last but not least, always ask if hospitals, doctors, and other providers offer cash discounts.
If you live and work in a state with a mandatory program for temporary disability, you can apply for benefits to help you financially while you recover from surgery. (As of this writing, only five states offer this type of coverage—New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and California, as well as the US territory of Puerto Rico—but laws change. Check to see if your state has coverage, even if it’s not listed here.)
While this financial assistance helps you following your surgery, it won’t help you pay for the surgery itself. Also, you should know when you apply what the limits of short-term disability coverage are—the cap on both monthly benefits and the length of time you can receive them.
Insure Kids Now is a great resource for low-income working parents who don’t have health insurance, or whose insurance doesn’t extend coverage to their kids. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide free or low-cost health insurance for children (though their future status is in flux under the current administration), and some cities, including San Francisco, offer free or affordable health coverage for kids from low- and middle-income families. Each state has different eligibility rules; see what the options are for yours.
All veterans can apply for health care benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA). However, only some veterans are eligible for free health care without copays. Once enrolled, veterans receive a medical benefits package, which includes inpatient care services including surgery. Veterans and their families are also offered a patient advocate to help guide them through the system.
People 65 and over can get health care coverage through Medicare, including surgery coverage. Medicare coverage is divided into several parts: Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.
Also look to see if your state offers any medical coverage for those with lower incomes (and when you’re facing a major surgery, you may qualify where you hadn’t before). Start with Healthcare.gov—a “qualifying event” such as a diagnosis may allow you to apply for subsidized coverage even outside the Affordable Care Act’s usual application windows. If your state has its own healthcare exchange, Healthcare.gov will send you there; once there, follow directions to see if you qualify for insurance subsidies or other coverage.
Crowdfunding is a tool anyone can use—not just for surgery, obviously, although in an age of rising insurance deductibles and shrinking coverage, crowdfunding for surgery has become nearly as routine as some common surgical procedures.
For emergency surgery, crowdfunding can be particularly effective. If you or a loved one is facing emergency surgery, you may have little time to organize your finances—but you can raise money quickly with crowdfunding.
Warning: Most crowdfunding platforms take a chunk of the money your raise for themselves, typically a “platform fee” of 5% or more from each donation (on top of percentages paid to third-party payment processors). In contrast, YouCaring doesn’t charge a platform fee. We’ve helped people raise nearly a billion dollars, and we know that in cases like yours, every dollar counts. Use our Medical Crowdfunding Guide to learn about raising funds for surgery and other medical expenses.
Find surgery assistance today
Don’t let medical bills from surgery push you to the verge of medical debt. The more familiar you are with your financial assistance options, the better you will be prepared in the event of an emergency.