Getting Help Paying for Surgery:
Financial Assistance with Costs
Appendectomies are among the most common surgical procedures in the U.S. In a study examining data from 2009, researchers found that the average cost of an appendectomy was $33,000 with costs varying widely from a low of $1,500 to a high of up to $180,000. Meanwhile, recent surveys show that the average American has less than $1,000 in savings to cover unexpected expenses.
With such limited savings, many Americans would find themselves in a difficult situation when confronted with an emergency surgery. Even with medical insurance, you may not be able to cover all costs associated with such a procedure. With this in mind, there are resources out there if you or someone you know is facing expenses for an emergency surgery.
Here are a few things you can look into for help with surgery costs:
1. Find Government Financial assistance programs
- Medicaid: This could be a valid option for you if you qualify. A great place to start is by checking your eligibility at HealthCare.gov. The site provides a great tool that directs you to your state’s marketplace where you can verify your eligibility. Many people believe that Medicaid is only available to low income individuals, but eligibility is determined by a number of factors which allows expanded coverage for families, pregnant women, children, and also individuals with disabilities.
- Medicare: Medicare is another possible way to cover your surgery or medical costs. Through Medicare, millions of Americans receive insurance coverage, and eligibility for this program is also based on a number of factors.
If you’re over the age of 65: There area few ways to qualify for Medicare, but the most well known is age eligibility. For many people over the age of 65, Medicare has been a great way to gain health insurance coverage to cover medical costs. To check your eligibility or calculate your premium cost, you can check out their site here.
If you’re under the age of 65: Another way to qualify is by being the recipient of Social Security disability benefits for 24 months, which do not need to be consecutive months.
However, if you have not been entitled to disability benefits, you may still qualify if you have kidney failure that requires regular dialysis or a kidney transplant. This, though, is contingent upon you or your spouse having paid into Social Security taxes for a specific length of time.
- Dual Eligibility (Medicaid & Medicare): Most individuals who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare are typically older or disabled, and in some cases both. In addition to this, individuals who are eligible for both typically have very low incomes and need assistance with covering a range of medical costs. If one form of coverage does not cover the full cost of medical expenses, the secondary coverage will typically pick up those costs.
To determine if you’re eligible for both, just visit the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services for more information. The site offers great resources where you can check your eligibility such as this PDF where you can view all requirements for dual eligibility.
2. Ask For Payment Plans
- No Insurance: Some hospitals may offer payment plans for your surgery if you’re not able to cover the full cost at the time of the procedure. The best way to handle this is by asking the hospital’s billing department before your surgery, but this may not always be possible if you have an emergency procedure. In emergency cases, the hospital may want to work with you to establish a payment plan to cover the costs. It’s very important to address this as soon as you’re able to so the hospital’s billing department knows an alternate payment option has been established for you. This will prevent any issues down the line, such as the involvement of a collection agency.
- With Insurance: Even if you have insurance, the cost of a surgery may not be fully covered and you may face out-of-pocket expenses. In cases like this, it’s still wise to contact your insurance, surgeon, or hospital and ask if they can help you with a payment plan. Remember that your surgery provider wants to get paid so they may be very willing to work with you on a payment plan. It’s important to always ask before or even after your procedure.
3. Crowdfunding for Surgery
- Using crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, you can raise funds for your surgery, aftercare, and even to supplement some of your income while you recover and get back to work. If you visit GoFundMe, you’ll see it has been used to raise funds for a wide range of surgeries. Anything from cleft palate surgery, appendectomies, and even more serious procedures like heart and lung transplants have found a home at GoFundMe.
You can start a campaign on your own, or have someone else start it for you. Take, for example, Chris’ appendectomy recovery. After Chris and his wife welcomed their new baby, he faced an unexpected surgery but had no paid time off from his work and found it difficult to pay for the costs of the surgery and his aftercare. His friend Amanda decided to take action and start a GoFundMe for his surgery costs and was able to raise over $5,000 to put towards mounting medical bills. With this help, the family was able to focus their attention on their new family, Chris’ recovery and all with less stress due to the unexpected surgery.
Pauly and Yaniv’s cases are some examples of campaigns for transplants on GoFundMe. After battling a brain tumor and cancer at a young age, Pauly faced the prospect of a double lung transplant. Pauly’s family and friends rallied behind him to raise over $40,000 to cover many of his out-of-pocket costs, making it easier for him and his family to focus on his long recovery and getting healthy again.
Similarly, Yaniv and his wife were faced with mounting costs that would not be covered through their insurance. Based on their own calculations, they faced about $25,000-$30,000 in out-of-pocket costs, but with the help of their GoFundMe, the couple was able to raise over $25,000. With the help their network provided, along with other resources, Yaniv and his wife were able to face this unimaginable battle with greater peace of mind and a hope towards a better future.
Get Help with Surgery Costs
Facing unexpected medical costs can be terrifying, and this is only made worse if you’re facing surgery. Even under the best of circumstances surgeries are stressful and rarely inexpensive. Explore the options outlined here, or do more research.
One of the easiest ways to help yourself or someone facing a surgery is by starting a GoFundMe. It’s easy and only takes a few minutes. With no limits on how much you can raise or what you can raise money for, it could be a great lifeline if you’re faced with the costs of a surgery. To get started or learn more today, just visit GoFundMe and start a fundraiser.