Living Cheap Guide to a Free Or Low Cost Health Care Option


There may be a facility that can provide you free or very low cost heath care. That facility could be right in your home town. It is available because of a law that was passed by the US Congress back in 1946. Even though it is an older law, because of it there are still facilities out there that you might be able to take advantage of.

In 1946, Congress passed a law that gave hospitals, nursing homes and other health facilities grants and loans for construction and modernization. In return, they agreed to provide a reasonable volume of services to persons unable to pay and to make their services available to all persons residing in the local area. The program stopped providing funds in 1997, but about 200 health care facilities nationwide are still obligated to provide free or reduced-cost care.

The program is called the Hill-Burton Free or reduced-cost Care program. Under the program you could be eligible for free health care or low cost health care. The first step is to find out if there is a facility near you that you can go to.

There are currently 218 Facilities as of (12/18/2008) that are required to take care of eligible persons. There are facilities all over the country but there are no facilities in these states: Indiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming. There should be facilities located in every other state.

You can locate a facility through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can access a list online at the HRSA website. Look for hillburton.

There are certain eligibility requirements that need to be met in order to get free or low cost health care services from these facilities. It has to do with your income and how your income or lack of income compares with the federal poverty income level.

You are eligible to apply for Hill-Burton free care if your income is at or below the current HHS Poverty Guidelines. You may be eligible for Hill-Burton reduced-cost care if your income is as much as two times (triple for nursing home care) the HHS Poverty Guidelines. Here is how to find out if you are eligible.

Go to the facility’s admissions or business office and ask for a copy of the Hill-Burton Individual Notice. The Individual Notice will tell you what income level makes you eligible for free or reduced-cost care, what services might be covered, and exactly where in the facility to apply.

Go to the office listed in the Individual Notice and say you want to apply for Hill-Burton free or reduced-cost care. You may need to fill out a form.
Gather any other required documents (such as a pay stub to prove income eligibility) and take or send them to the obligated facility.
If you are asked to apply for Medicaid, Medicare, or some other financial assistance program, you must do so.

When you apply for Hill-Burton care, the obligated facility must provide you with a written statement that tells you what free or reduced-cost care services you will get or why you have been denied.

You may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if you believe you have been unfairly denied Hill-Burton free or reduced-cost care. Your complaint must be in writing and can be a letter that simply states the facts and dates concerning the complaint. You may call your local legal aid services for help in filing a complaint. Send complaints to:

Director, Division of Facilities Compliance and Recovery
5600 Fishers Lane
Room 10-105
Rockville, MD 20857


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