February 26, 2024

Patients can apply for help with medical bills

Kaiser Permanente offers financial assistance for people struggling to pay medical bills.

Medical bills, especially unexpected ones, can be overwhelming — even families with health insurance.

Unexpected medical costs can be disastrous. Sixty-year-old Raul knows the pain. (Raul asked us not to share his last name or photo.)

After he was diagnosed with lymphoma, he suddenly had more frequent doctor visits and treatments. That meant more medical bills.

Even with disability benefits, he didn’t have enough money to pay for everything. He needed money for his copayments, household expenses, and gas to get to his appointments.

Then, Raul found out about our Medical Financial Assistance program. He applied and received help. The program covers the cost of his copayments.

And, his Kaiser Permanente social worker connected Raul with other organizations and services to help his family get through this difficult time.

Many people need a little help

About half of U.S. adults say it’s difficult to afford health care costs. Even families with health insurance may struggle.

Medical bills, especially unexpected ones, can be overwhelming. Our Medical Financial Assistance program can help.

“Families shouldn’t have to choose between paying their health care bills or paying for electricity and food,” said Stephanie Ledesma, vice president for community health programs at Kaiser Permanente. “Our program can cover 25% to 100% of qualifying costs for patients in need. And, it doesn’t need to be repaid.”

Here are answers to common questions about how the program works.

Who is eligible to get help paying their medical bills?

Kaiser Permanente’s Medical Financial Assistance program is open to patients with low incomes, whether they have health insurance or not.

We look at household income and other factors to decide who qualifies.

In general, patients with household incomes at or below 300% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible. In some areas, we offer help to people who have household incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty guidelines.

What does the program cover?

Patients can apply to get help paying for care provided at our medical facilities. This includes emergency care, other medically necessary care, and pharmacy services and products.

Patients who qualify get some or all of their costs covered.

How can people apply?

Applying online is the quickest and easiest way to apply.

Visit kp.org/mfa to start the application process.

You can also call us to request a form.

What else should people know about our Medical Financial Assistance program?

Kaiser Permanente works to ensure patients know that financial help is available.

  • Our patient-facing teams are trained to offer assistance to patients who might need help paying for their medical bills.
  • Information about our Medical Financial Assistance program is included in patient invoices and billing statements.
  • Signs about the program are posted in patient waiting areas.

Kaiser Permanente also informs community-based organizations about the program. That way, they can let patients know help is available.

Our program policy and application are available at kp.org/mfa.