Can I Get Free Care at the Hospital?
Yes. All hospitals in Maine must give free care to poor people without health insurance. You have to meet these criteria:
- Your income is below the guidelines
- You need services that are medically necessary
How Do I Get Free Care?
Just ask the hospital for an application.
It is the law in Maine that hospitals tell you about your right to apply for free care. It should be posted on the wall in the hospital. They should also give you written information about it.
What if I have insurance but still qualify for free care?
If the hospital decides you qualify for free care but you also have other health insurance, then the hospital has to pay whatever is left over after your bill is sent to your health insurance provider.
The hospital staff should help you fill out the application if you ask for help. Ask for an interpreter if you need one.
Does free care cover everything?
Free care covers all medically necessary services you get from the hospital. It will not cover costs for your prescriptions at the drug store or other tests or doctor’s bills.
What are the income rules for free care?
Hospitals have to give free care to people who are below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. They count your income before taxes.
They don’t count:
- Food stamps
- Lump sums (like from an inheritance or lawsuit settlement)
- Income from people who live with you but aren’t related to you (roommates, significant others, etc.)
This chart shows the maximum annual income:
What if my income is higher than the amounts listed above?
You may still be able to get help. Many hospitals have higher income limits than the ones above. They may also have sliding fee scales where you only pay part of the cost. Ask the hospital.
Can the hospital make me apply for other programs?
Yes. The hospital can ask you to apply for MaineCare or Medicare to see if you’re eligible for coverage under those programs.
What if I think I should get free care but the hospital denies me?
You have the right to ask for a hearing. The deadline is 60 days from when you got the denial letter from the hospital. You can also ask for a hearing if the hospital doesn’t give you their decision within a reasonable amount of time.
Keep the denial letter. You have to send it to the hearings office when you ask for your hearing:Administrative Hearings Unit
Department of Health and Human Services
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011 Tel:(207)287-1893 Fax: (207) 287-8448
Then call Pine Tree Legal to see if we can help or give you advice on your hearing.
Updated August, 2022
PTLA # 599