Healthcare cost assistance programs

Help is available if you’re struggling to stretch your limited income and resources to cover the cost of your health care.

  • State and federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid offer assistance for low income families, seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Counseling, training and outreach is available to help you make informed choices about your care.
  • Housing assistance gives some “wiggle room” to your budget to help you afford the care you need.

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Research shows that paying for health care is challenging for a large percentage of Americans—even those with health insurance plans.

  • 43% of adults with health insurance say it’s “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” for them to pay their plan’s deductible.
  • 29% of adults have difficulty paying their medical bills and 73% of that group report cutting back on food or other basic items to compensate.
  • Cost caused 27% of respondents to delay getting health care, 23% reported skipping care altogether and 21% skipped filling a prescription.

Luckily, assistance is available.

Medicare

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older. It also provides benefits for people with certain disabilities and end-stage kidney disease. The program covers a portion of your costs but it doesn’t pay for them completely.

Different parts of Medicare pay for different things:

  • Medicare Part A covers admission to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice and some home health care
  • Medicare Part B pays for certain doctor services, outpatient care, preventive services, and medical supplies
  • Medicare Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, is an all-in-one alternative offered by private companies that have been approved by Medicare
  • Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage

Read more about the ABCDs of Medicare coverage. 

Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides assistance with health care costs for people with lower incomes. The federal government covers a large portion of the costs and sets up general guidelines for coverage, but Medicaid is administered by each state and each state has its own specific requirements. Contact your state’s officials for more information.

Medicare Medicaid Dual Eligibility (D-SNP)

Dual eligibility means you qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare benefits. These plans pay some or all of your Medicare deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. Some plans also provide dental, hearing and vision benefits, which are not covered by Medicare.

If you’re on Medicare and have limited income and resources, a federally funded Medicare Savings Program (MSP) could help you afford the care you need.

Medicare savings programs

If you’re on Medicare and have limited income and resources, a federally funded Medicare Savings Program (MSP) could help you afford the care you need. There are four alternatives, each with different eligibility requirements. Income requirements change annually.

  • Qualified Beneficiary Medicine Program—Helps pay for Medicare Parts A and B as well as additional costs like deductibles and copayments
  • Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary Program—Helps pay the premium for Medicare Part B
  • Qualified Individual Program—Helps pay for the Medicare Part B premium
  • Qualifying Disabled and Working Individuals Program—Helps pay the premiums for Medicare Part A

Medicare Extra Help

Extra Help is also known as Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy. The federally funded program helps pay a portion of your out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, including premiums, deductibles and copayments.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers low-cost health insurance to children in families whose income exceeds the Medicaid guidelines. In some states, CHIP also offers coverage to pregnant women.

CHIP follows federal requirements but is administered by the state government in which the applicant lives. The program is funded on both a state and federal level.

State Health Insurance Program (SHIP)

The State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) uses federal funding to offer counseling, training, education, and outreach to help Medicare-eligible participants and their families make informed choices about their health and wellness.

Housing Assistance

The cost of care can often make it very difficult to make your rent or mortgage payments if your limited resources are all directed towards your health needs. Numerous programs are available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help provide affordable housing, which can help your money stretch further.

The cost of care can often make it very difficult to make your rent or mortgage payments if your limited resources are all directed towards your health needs. 

Programs include:

  • Public housing—Income-based assistance available to individuals and families who meet income and other eligibility guidelines
  • Housing choice vouchers—Assistance for very low income families, seniors and people with certain disabilities
  • Subsidized housing—Provides subsidies to property owners, who use them to offset costs and provide lower rent to their tenants

Find a doctor

The doctors at Providence understand that health care costs can be prohibitive if you have limited resources and low income. Our geriatric specialists and their support staff can walk you through the steps of getting the assistance you need. Find a doctor using our provider directory. Or, you can search for a primary care doctor in your area.

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Share your strategies for affording the health care you need without breaking the bank at #aging with readers @psjh.

Related resources

The ABCDs of Medicare: An overview

Providence Medicare Advantage Plans Recognized for Excellence

Housing as a bridge to better mental health

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

 

About the Author

From how to identify and treat heart diseases to exercise tips to maintain an active lifestyle, the Providence Senior's Health team is committed to providing real-world advice that is hyper-relevant to helping those 65+ find ways stay young at heart

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