We often put a lot of time and energy into thinking about things such as money, business, politics, and such. But, what we need to realize is that our health and the health of our loved ones is what matters most. You could have all the money and resources in the world, but without a healthy body, there’s not much you can do to enjoy life. At the same time, we need to realize that as long as we’re relatively healthy, there’s tons of potential for what we’re capable of doing.
On the other hand, healthcare in America is just crazy expensive. To make things clear, 1 out of every 3 Americans are in debt due to health care bills. That statistic counts those who can afford to get such debt. Many folks out there will either not qualify for loans or will avoid financing their healthcare to avoid further financial burdens altogether. Knowing that such a major crisis exists within the nation, the government addresses the issue with a wide range of assistance programs. These programs aim to ease the financial burden of healthcare. Some of these programs will provide free-of-charge services to citizens, other programs will provide more-affordable-than-average options.
Type Of Government Assistance Programs Available
There’s such a wide selection of programs that the government designed to help people with the healthcare issue. These programs will vary in benefits and qualifications, which means that not just anyone can apply for every program. Before applying, you’ll need to understand the kind of benefits you’d receive from each program, you’ll also need to clearly understand if you’re eligible, so you can avoid wasting time on applying for things that won’t be of any use to you. The main qualifications for healthcare-related government assistance programs revolve around the age and work history of the beneficiaries. For this article, we’ll look into the following programs:
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Veteran Healthcare Assistance
CHIP is a government assistance program that is mainly concerned with families. Through CHIP, eligible families can have access to affordable healthcare. CHIP aims to provide comprehensive healthcare coverage, including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental/vision care, scans, tests, and emergency services. For all eligible families, CHIP may provide healthcare coverage for kids, but in some cases, the coverage may extend itself to pregnant women as well.
Under CHIP, routine “well child” doctor and dental visits are free. But, you might need to copay for other services. In some states, you also need to pay a CHIP premium. These premiums may vary from one state to another, but they won’t cost more than 5% of a family’s annual income.
Eligibility For CHIP
The federal government created the Children’s Health Insurance Program. However, state governments run the program. That means that many aspects of the program may vary from one state to another. So when applying for CHIP in California, you may receive different benefits than those your cousins receive in Iowa. State governments may ask you to satisfy a different set of qualifications when applying.
CHIP focuses on providing low-cost healthcare for families whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid (which we will discuss later on), but just not enough to pay for private health insurance.
Every state will provide CHIP coverage. Each state’s program works in close contact with the Medicaid program. One of the best things about CHIP is that it doesn’t work the same way as private health insurance programs. You may apply for CHIP on any day of the year. If you’re interested in applying for CHIP, you can use one of the following 2 options:
- Call 1-800- 318-2596
- You can apply through the Health Insurance Marketplace®. If eligible, your application will go to your state agency. Your state should contact you when they receive your information and process it.
Medicaid is a program created by the federal government to help those strapped on cash access affordable healthcare. Just like CHIP, Medicaid was created by the federal government but is run by state governments. That means benefits and qualification terms may vary from one state to another. But, in a general sense, you can expect to be required to satisfy the following criteria to qualify for Medicaid:
- US citizens and eligible immigrants only
- You must reside in the state in which you apply for Medicaid
- You must satisfy some sort of low-income status
A lot of folks out there get mixed up between Medicaid and Medicare. As we mentioned before, Medicaid is for those who struggle financially. Medicaid aims to help to qualify people of all ages with finding affordable healthcare.
However, Medicare focuses more on the elderly. Medicare is a national healthcare program that assists people 65 years old or older. There are some cases in which people under the age of 65 may apply for Medicare. Individuals under the age of 65 who wish to receive Medicare benefits must receive Social Security Disability benefits for 24 months. However, individuals who have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) do not have to abide by the 24-months rule before applying.
Medicare can get pretty confusing as it consists of different ‘parts.’ Each part covers a different segment of healthcare costs. Before you apply for Medicare, you should get familiar with what each part addresses. As each part will cover a different aspect of healthcare, beneficiaries will need to pay different premiums for each:
- A: Hospital Insurance
- B: Medical Insurance
- C: Medicare advantages (usually offered by private insurance companies enrolled in the Medicare program)
- D: Medicare prescription drug coverage
It’s possible to be enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid at the same time, if eligible.
As part of the overall ‘disability benefits’ program, SSDI focuses on providing support for disabled individuals and their families. SSDI will provide healthcare coverage to those who’ve worked long enough and suffer from a disability that gets in the way of being able to work any longer. The disability must render them unable to work for at least 12 months or must be considered terminal for the applicant to qualify for SSDI.
Alongside SSDI exists another assistance program for disabled individuals and their families. That program is called SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. SSI is meant for disabled individuals and their families should their income be too low to afford proper healthcare.
Applying for SSDI And SSI
To understand who exactly qualifies for these programs, we recommend checking out this checklist from the government department concerned. First, you’ll need to provide information about your work:
- The amount of money earned last year and this year.
- The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year.
- The beginning and ending dates of any active U.S. military service you had before 1968.
- A list of the jobs (up to 5) that you had in the 15 years before you became unable to work and the dates you worked at those jobs.
- Information about any workers’ compensation, black lung, and/or similar benefits you filed, or intend to file for.
Second, you’ll need to provide information about your medical condition:
- Name, address, and phone number of someone we can contact who knows about your medical conditions and can help with your application.
- Detailed information about your medical illnesses, injuries, or conditions:
- Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers, and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals, and clinics.
- Medicines you are taking and who prescribed them.
- Types and dates of medical tests you have had and who ordered them.
Finally, information about the individual applying for these benefits:
- Date and place of birth
- Social security number
- All information concerning current or past spouses. That will include names, social security numbers, and dates of birth. You should also have information about the place and date of marriage/divorce/death of spouses.
- Your bank or other financial institution’s Routing Transit Number and the account number.
Here’s Also A List Of Documents You’ll Need To Provide When Applying For SSDI/SSI
- Birth certificate or other proof of birth.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States.
- U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968.
- W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year.
- Medical records, doctors’ reports, and recent test results.
- Proof of any temporary or permanent workers’ compensation-type benefits you received
Actual Application Process
You may apply for SSDI and SSI in person, on the phone, or the internet. Regardless of how you choose to apply, the process is the same in all cases:
- You’ll need to have all information and documents required before applying
- Then you can start filling in your application (If you’re applying online, go to the Apply For Benefits page. That page will also have a “Getting Ready” section that helps you make sure you have all the information and documents needed)
- After filling in your application and submitting it Social Security services will review it and make sure you meet the basic requirements.
- Reviewers will check on your work history and current professional activities
- After processing the application, Social Security services will forward it to the Disability Determination Services office in your state.
- The Disability Determination Services office in your state will then decide on whether you qualify or not.
After applying, you should wait for a response from Social Security services through the mail. If you applied online, you can check your personal Social Security account. You can also contact the concerned office by phone at 1-800-772-1213. You may also appeal any decision regarding your entitlement to disability benefits.
Veteran Healthcare Assistance
To show appreciation for our service men and women, the government created specific healthcare assistance programs for them. These programs aim to help veterans recover from any injuries or illnesses while avoiding putting themselves under financial stress. To qualify for Veteran Healthcare Assistance, you must meet one of the following terms:
- You enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981.
- If you’re a current or former member of the Reserves or National Guard
While Veteran Affairs (VA) might consider the length of your service period, they may also disregard it if you fit one of the following criteria:
- You quit the service due to a disability that was caused or made worse by your active-duty service.
- If you served before September 7, 1980.
- You were discharged for hardship or “early out.”
VA aims to improve the lives of veterans. It’s not only about treating soldiers but also showing appreciation to those who chose to put their lives on the line for the country. VA offers this program to achieve the following for veterans:
- Treat current injuries and illnesses
- Prevent future health problems
- Increase the chances of functioning normally daily
- Improving veterans’ quality of life
All veterans receive benefits from VA. However, some veterans may be eligible for extra services such as dental care. That all depends on the veteran’s priority group, the advice from the veteran’s primary healthcare provider, and the available medical standards to treat the veteran’s current condition.
You can apply for veteran healthcare assistance through this link. You can also call VA on the toll-free number 877-222-8387, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.