Can hospitals do surgery without insurance?

It is currently difficult for many people to pay for a medical bill or surgery without having insurance because everyday health services get more expensive, and diseases often catch us by surprise; without a doubt, having insurance makes things easier regardless of the amount of coverage.

However, in the United States, the government has developed several quality health care programs, like Medicaid or Medicare, which provide assistance for lots of procedures and conditions; it undoubtedly represents a relief for many families.

In consequence, if you do not have health insurance and do not know what to do if an unforeseen health problem happens, we will explain it in this article.

Medical assistance without insurance

Regarding the main question: Can hospitals do surgery without insurance? The answer is YES, but not completely.

sugery without insurance

The fact that you or your family does not have health insurance does not mean that doctors will refuse to give you the help you need to save your life in the event of an emergency. Physicians have an ethical and moral commitment displayed in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act; this ensures that all individuals requiring medical assistance, regardless of their ability to pay, should not be denied essential lifesaving services.

However, even if you receive medical assistance, the hospital can still charge you for the medical service provided; this can include hospital and medical costs, specialists’ payments, doctor fees, medicine, treatments, etc. Consequently, if you do not have medical insurance that at least covers part of the bill, the amount you will have to pay could be exponentially high.

What qualifies as medical emergencies?

With that being said, it is important to remember that not all health contingencies can be considered a medical emergency. If you go to the ER anyway, you probably will not receive the required attention.

In other words, if your situation does not constitute a medical emergency according to federal guidelines, you will not receive medical attention under this premise.

You can only receive medical attention if your health condition -or emergency- has some of these characteristics:

  1. Any incident where delivery is imminent in a pregnant woman.
  2. Any incident that severely impairs bodily functions or organs.
  3. Or any incident that is severe or life-threatening.

What does not qualify as an emergency?

As we mentioned before, just because you go to an ER, this does not mean they will assist you (if you do not have insurance). So, here is a list of some examples of situations that do not qualify as an emergency under federal guidelines:

  1. Not life-threatening diseases, such as rashes, flu, or colds.
  2. Even though imminent deliveries are considered emergencies, prenatal care is not. Screenings, wellness checks, and follow-up appointments are not covered by the time of attending emergencies.
  3. Non-life threatening care situations, like skin conditions or broken bones that have not pierced the skin.

What are your options?

If you do not have insurance and you are not able to pay for a non-emergency surgery, we recommend you consider these options:

  • The U.S government offers Medicaid as a federal-state program that provides health coverage to almost 73 million Americans. It is a good option for low-income families and other certain groups of individuals that require medical assistance. If you are interested, you can visit their official website for further information.
  • Medicare is another medical assistance program that may be useful for you; you can check related information about the different health plans here and also read about how this program works here.
  • Additionally, you can also negotiate your hospital bills. Before you get hospitalized, you may ask for your bill to be split into monthly amounts or ask about financial assistance programs, which are known as ‘charity care.’ This situation depends on the hospital’s internal policies, but you may try.
  • Another option is for you to visit an urgent care center. If you are not experiencing an emergency, you may visit an urgent care center where nurse practitioners will assist you; they can treat minor illnesses or injuries in most cases. If you need specialized medical assistance, they will advise you to go to the hospital. Generally, urgent care centers cost roughly half of hospitals.