Community Coalition for End of Life Care

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Struggling with high medical expenses?

If you are one of the many people in the State of New Hampshire who are uninsured or "underinsured" you may be worried about mounting medical bills. For some individuals and families in our communities the diagnosis of a serious, potentially life limiting condition may be further complicated by concerns over the high cost of health care. The Coalition for End of Life Care would like to take this opportunity to help to educate community members about options for assistance with the high costs of health care.

There are several sources for Financial Aid in the State of New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Medicaid Program provides medical assistance to low income disabled individuals and low income elders. Eligibility is based on income and assets. The State of New Hampshire does have a "recovery" program that allows the State to seek reimbursement for medical expenses that they have paid for. Unfortunately, many individuals are fearful of applying for Medicaid because of this. However, there are some protections for surviving spouses of Medicaid recipients, so Medicaid is definitely an option that is worth exploring. Inquiring into the Medicaid program does not commit an individual to the application process and is the best way to get really accurate information.

Another valuable resource is the New Hampshire Health Access Network (NHHAN). www.healthynh.com

For individuals who receive medical care at a local hospital, some assistance with medical expenses may available directly from the hospital. The application process may vary between facilities. Some hospitals require that the applicant apply for Medicaid first. All hospitals have financial counselors or social workers who will assist individuals with applications for financial assistance. At Littleton Regional Hospital, the financial aid committee meets once a month to review all applications and determine the level of assistance that will be provided.

Ammonoosuc Community Health Services (ACHS) has a sliding fee scale (SFS) based on income for patients without insurance. Littleton Regional Hospital accepts this SFS for ACHS patients that have expenses at the hospital.

In emergency situations, town welfare departments may be accessed to assist residents with immediate medical expenses, such as filling a prescription. In Lisbon, the Buffington Fund may be applied to for assistance with medical expenses.

The New Hampshire Catastrophic Illness Program is a resource for individuals with cancer.

For individuals who have life insurance, a Viatical Settlement may be a good option. This allows the insured individual to access funds from their death benefit in advance, (in the form of a smaller settlement than the full death benefit). These funds may be very helpful for immediate care needs, or even to maintain payments on a private health insurance plan to continue coverage for medical care, as individuals with chronic illness may no longer be able to work and may need to pay COBRA expenses.

In situations where financial assistance is simply not an option, a payment plan may be arranged. All hospitals are required to have a payment plan option. This allows individuals to spread out payments over time, while protecting their credit.

There are many trained social workers and financial assistance staff at health care and human service agencies in our community. If you are struggling with overwhelming medical expenses, please do not carry this burden alone. Ask questions, get information, and let other help you in lightening your load.

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