How to Find Financial Help for Out of Pocket Medical Expenses

| 7 min read Financial Assistance

Fighting an illness requires mental, emotional, and physical strength. Unfortunately, it also requires money—often, a lot of it. Even with health insurance, many people struggle to pay high out of pocket medical expenses. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2019 health benefits survey, out of pocket medical expenses have increased by a staggering 71% in the last ten years. 

If you’re wondering how to get rid of medical debt that was caused by out of pocket expenses, know that you’re not alone. There are numerous resources to help you get emergency financial assistance so you can focus on what’s most important: your journey to healing.

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What are out of pocket expenses?

Out of pocket expenses are medical costs that are not covered by your insurance company. Many insurance companies can deny coverage for certain prescription medicines, mental health care, costly cancer treatments, and chronic diseases, leaving you to pay for the full medical bill. Below are five shocking facts about out of pocket medical expenses you need to know. 

  • According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Americans spend over $365 billion on out of pocket medical expenses each year. 
  • Even with health insurance, out of pocket maximums will increase in 2020 to $8,200 for individuals, and $16,400 for families.
  • Nearly 60% of Americans have been surprised by a medical bill they thought would be covered by their insurance, reports a 2017 study from the University of Chicago.  
  • More than 50% of people have delayed seeking medical treatment due to out of pocket costs, according to AccessOne’s 2019 patient finance survey
  • In 2017, the average out of pocket healthcare costs for those with private insurance was $5,642, compared with $5,942 for those with employer-sponsored insurance. 

Resources that help with out of pocket medical expenses

Discover a variety of resources, below, that can help you pay for out of pocket medical expenses—no matter your medical need. 

1. Crowdfunding for medical expenses

Many have turned to crowdfunding to combat overwhelming medical costs. Medical crowdfunding allows you to quickly and easily reach out to a giving community to help relieve the burden of medical debt. Online fundraising is becoming increasingly popular because it allows people to raise money for absolutely any type of medical cost. People all over the world have raised money for medical expenses like dental costs, treating chronic illness, and even IVF and pregnancy costs. The following tips will help ensure your fundraiser is a success. 

  • Start by writing a compelling fundraiser story to connect with potential donors, and help them understand why funds are needed and where they will go. 
  • Share your fundraiser on social media to reach an even wider audience. You can even ask friends and family to share on your behalf if you need some moral support.
  • If you are raising a large amount of money—for example, to pay for cancer treatment—consider putting together a fundraising team of your family and friends. The more people to help promote your fundraiser, the better. 
  • Prepare multiple ways to ask for donations, depending on whether you’re asking someone you know personally, a community member, or a stranger online. Follow up with each donor, and consider sending a personalized thank you letter.  

2. Nonprofits offering help for out of pocket expenses

Many nonprofits exist solely to help people pay for medical-related expenses. The four organizations below assist those who have existing insurance, but still need financial help.

The Health Well Foundation

This organization helps the underinsured pay copays, premiums, deductibles and out of pocket expenses. They even help pay for travel expenses incurred on the way to treatment. To be eligible, you must have some form of existing health insurance, meet the income requirements, and receive treatment in the US.

Good Days

This is an organization that provides financial assistance to those suffering from certain diseases. They help cover copays, premiums, and travel costs. They also provide help navigating the healthcare system. Patients must have valid health insurance, be diagnosed with a covered disease, and have a valid Social Security Number, among other requirements.

United Healthcare Children’s Foundation

This nonprofit focuses on providing financial help to children and their families through medical grants. Children must be 16 years or younger to qualify, have some form of private health insurance, and have a Social Security Number.

The Hope Lodge

The Hope Lodge’s program through the American Cancer Society provides cancer patients and their families with lodging while they travel for cancer treatments. Eligibility requirements vary by state.

3. Assistance from the government for out of pocket expenses

If you meet specific qualifications, government assistance is another way to get help with bills. Here are three programs that may work for you:

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

This program helps needy families get back on their feet so they can provide adequate care to their children and eventually become self-sufficient. To be eligible, you must be pregnant or caring for a child under the age of 19. You must be unemployed or underemployed, and be a US national, citizen, legal alien, or permanent resident.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The CHIP provides kids and teens with low-cost health insurance. The program covers services like immunizations, dental care, prescriptions, and hospital visits for children up to age 19 whose families make up to $49,200 per year.

Medicare Savings Programs

This helps pay your Medicare premiums, and in some cases, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. They offer four different types of Medicare savings programs based on income levels. You can visit their contact information page to find out the specific requirements for your state and see if you’re eligible.

See how others avoided medical debt by crowdfunding

Olivia’s bone marrow transplant

Olivia was in middle school when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer, T-Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. Oliva’s doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant to help kick cancer for good—but this $900,000 procedure wasn’t covered under their family’s insurance plan. Olivia’s brother was a 100% match for the transplant, so a family friend started a fundraiser to make the procedure a reality. The campaign raised over $300,000 in just two months, and Olivia is well on her way to her goal.

Save Raluca’s mom

When Raluca’s mom was diagnosed with mesothelioma, she was shocked. She was also terrified of treatment costs. Her mom wasn’t a US citizen and was uninsured. Raluca started a fundraiser and told the world her mom’s story. With a compelling story full of emotional details and posting frequent updates to keep her donors in the loop, Raluca touched supporters. To date, she has raised nearly $170,000 for her mom’s cancer treatment through her fundraiser.

Get relief for costly out of pocket medical costs

From minor surgeries to major cancer treatments, medical-related expenses aren’t cheap—with or without insurance. If you’ve exhausted other options to conquer mounting medical costs, fundraising can help. We know the situation may seem impossible, but every day we see people use medical fundraising successfully to receive both the financial and emotional support they need. Sign up today and start your own medical fundraiser, so you can find financial help for out of pocket medical expenses and focus on what matters most to you. 

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Written by caitlin