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How to Get Free Help with Your Medical Bills

08.19.2009Health.com

More than 60% of U.S. bankruptcies are ultimately caused by mounting medical bills. Before a major health issue spirals into a personal financial disaster, consider getting help.

Medical companies, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations have programs that can help you cut costs. For instance, drug companies typically offer free or discounted pills to those in need (you can get the details on each company’s website). You may also qualify for charitable aid—even if you’re not completely broke. Check with your hospital’s social worker, or use the United Way’s national referral website.

Here’s a sampling of organizations that help patients pay for care.

HealthWell Foundation
This nonprofit organization helps needy patients pay their insurance premiums, as well as prescription drug and other out-of-pocket costs. You can apply online (your doctor needs to fill out a form too) for up to a year’s assistance. After that, you’ll need to reapply.

Patient Access Network Foundation
For U.S. residents who are being treated for one of 21 diseases on this organization’s list—which includes breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis—Patient Access offers $1,500 to $8,500 of assistance toward medication costs for one year. You’ll hear back on your online application within 48 business hours

Chronic Disease Fund
This fund provides help for prescription drug co-payments for chronic disease or cancer patients. Typically, patients receive $2,500 to $8,000 of aid per calendar year. If you choose to use a pharmacy associated with the fund, you can avoid having to submit claims for reimbursement.

Patient Advocate Foundation
If you’re insured, Patient Advocate can help with your pharmaceutical co-payments. The foundation offers assistance to those with diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and various cancers.

UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation
This organization helps families with insurance plans that don’t fully cover their children’s needs. For instance, it pays for speech therapy and hearing aids that families typically have to pay for out-of-pocket. Only those with a commercial health benefit plan—and not a federally funded plan like Medicaid—can qualify.

Stephanie Wu