How to Apply for Charity Care

The rise in health costs has forced many people into tough positions regarding medical care. Though federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicaid provide health coverage for some patients, many people do not qualify for these programs. To provide care for low-income patients, many hospitals have instituted charity-care programs, allowing eligible patients to receive free or discounted health care. Every hospital has its own charity-care policy, but most follow the same basic application process.

Applying For Charity Care

Visit a hospital in your area. If possible, visit a not-for-profit hospital.

Ask the front desk staff about the hospital’s charity-care program. The staff will direct you to the appropriate office, which may be the business or admissions office.

Ask for the hospital’s charity=care policy in writing. Ask any questions you may have about the policy; make sure you understand exactly how much cost will be covered by charity care and what procedures are covered.

Fill out the charity-care application. Provide documentation proving your income level as well as any other documentation the hospital requires.

Hand the application to the appropriate party. Get a receipt indicating the hospital has received your application. Make a record of the date and time that you turned in your application and the full name of the person who received it.

Save all correspondence with the hospital. The hospital may take several weeks to process your application. If you receive a bill before your application has gone through, inform the charity=care representative immediately.


  • If you cannot travel, call the hospital to ask about their charity-care program. Make sure to get the full name of the charity care representative that you speak to.

    Apply for charity care at the earliest possible time. If possible, apply before you receive care.

    If you have a medical emergency, go directly to the emergency room to receive treatment. Ask about charity care after you have been treated.