Hospital Care Assistance Program (HCAP)
Patients who need medical care, but are unable to pay for it, may be eligible for free or reduced fee care at Ohio hospitals through the Hospital Care Assurance Program (HCAP) or Hospital Financial Assistance Programs. For both programs, the patient must fill out an application and provide proof of income.
Under an Ohio law, HCAP (Ohio Administrative Code 5101:3-2-07.17), hospitals are required to "provide, without charge to the individual, basic, medically necessary hospital-level services" for patients at or below the federal poverty level. To see the complete rule, look for 5101:3-2-07.17in the Ohio Administrative Code at http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/5101:3-2-07.17
To be eligible for HCAP:
- You must be an Ohio resident
- You are not a recipient of the Medicaid program, and
- Your family income is at or below the 2010 Federal Poverty Guidelines OR you are covered by the Disability Assistance Program
Prior hospital bills - paid or unpaid, may be covered by HCAP. Patients can apply for HCAP up to 3 years after they are notified about it. Patients should contact the hospital`s billing department about prior bills, and ask to apply for HCAP - even if the bill has already been sent to collections. If a patient paid a bill but was eligible for HCAP, they may be reimbursed.
Hospital Financial Assistance Programs
For patients who do not qualify for HCAP, hospitals may have their own financial assistance programs. Since these programs are voluntary, each hospital has different rules and procedures. Call the hospital, ask for the financial assistance department, and ask about financial assistance options available for patients with incomes too high to qualify for HCAP.
These programs cover hospital services only
Both HCAP and hospital financial assistance programs cover only hospital charges, not bills from non-hospital providers (such as x-rays, radiologists, and other medical providers who are not hospital staff members). However, many doctors may reduce or drop their fees when told that the patient qualified for HCAP. Patients should ask hospital billing departments to provide them with documentation stating they qualified for HCAP or other programs. The patient can then share this documentation with non-covered providers.