Uninsured and Facing an Emergency? Know Your Rights!

Just because you don’t have health insurance does not mean you’re without protection. Know your rights.

As an uninsured individual, you may not be familiar with what rights are available to you in an emergency. You have the right to emergency care if you meet the federal guidelines of what constitutes an emergency situation.

So what qualifies as an emergency?

  • Any incident that is severe or life-threatening,
  • Any incident where bodily functions or organs are seriously impaired,
  • Any incident where delivery is imminent in a pregnant woman.

No matter what your insurance status, hospitals and emergencies room must provide adequate care if your situation qualifies as an emergency.

Some visits will not qualify under the formal definition of an emergency:

  • Going to an emergency room for non-life threatening care
  • Visiting an urgent care facility for non-life threatening events
  • Prenatal care, wellness checks, screenings, follow-up appointments or ongoing doctor visits
  • Situations that are not considered life threatening, like flu, colds, rashes, etc.

Once your immediate situation has been assessed and you have been stabilized, your hospital may elect to transfer or discharge you.

Please keep in mind just because you go to the emergency room, it does not mean you will be seen if your situation does not constitute an emergency.

Additionally, just because you were treated despite being uninsured doesn’t mean the visit is free. You will be responsible for the full bill and will need to work out a payment arrangement with the hospital. Consider asking for charity care options or discounts that might be available to help offset some of the costs.

If you are uninsured, please consider reaching out to your local Medicaid office to determine eligibility for this coverage. You can also explore your options through the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces at www.healthcare.gov

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