North Carolina hospital charity programs and free health care. 

Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill free health care

A health advocacy group known as the Health Access Coalition has reported that Triangle area hospitals do a good job of providing free health care to low income people who have limited or no health insurance.

Another item noted in the report is that the hospitals do a decent job in publicizing how people can qualify for the so-called charity medical care. A total of six different hospitals in the area around Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill have charity care policies that will be effective when most people need them. In addition, it is important to note that the hospitals in the UNC Health Care system are more generous than other local facilities.

Some area hospitals publicize their charity programs on the Internet, while Johnston Medical Center and Franklin Regional do not advertise their programs. Across the state of North Carolina, only about 39 of 112 hospitals post their policies and have information readily available to the public.

Sometimes people get hit with a major illness or injury, and in many cases the cost of the treatment received can be catastrophic to the patient. When someone is hit with a major health issue, hospitals may decide to write off the treatments as charity care if the patients meet certain low income or poverty thresholds. While each program will vary, on average a family of four that makes about $41,000 per year should be eligible for free health care if they have no health insurance or if they have limited coverage.

Details on free health care

WakeMed, Duke Hospital, Durham Regional, and Duke Raleigh all base their charity care programs upon certain income thresholds. However UNC Health Care, which includes UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill and Rex Hospital in Raleigh, extends its charity health care to families who make more than $41,000 per year, which is their attempt to try to assist more patients.





The chief financial officer of Rex Healthcare said that they are very proud of their policy. A family of four with a total annual household income of up to $55,000 or less would qualify for free charity care at either Rex or UNC Hospitals. Also, click here to read how medical billing advocates can negotiate bills on your behalf.

One example of a recent case at Rex Hospital involved a woman in her 50s who was self-employed as a bookkeeper and who unfortunately had no health insurance. The total medical bill of her cancer treatment topped $500,000. Rex Healthcare wrote that off bill, and the patient owed nothing. While the patient didn’t even have to negotiate the bill as it was readily written off, negotiating a medical bill is another option to help save.

UNC Health Care, which has as a goal and one of its primary mandates the objective provide health care to all North Carolinians despite their ability to pay, spent over $250 million last year on its charity program.

Another example. At Duke University Health System, which includes Durham Regional , Duke Hospital, and Duke Raleigh, charity care was almost $50 million last year. Additional losses are experienced by the hospital when people can't pay their medical bills or when the hospital's costs exceed what Medicare and Medicaid pay.

Also, WakeMed in Raleigh said its charity health care program granted over $82 million in free medical services to patients.

The mission of WakeMed is to provide care for everybody who walks through their doors, even if it is free. That has been the mission of the hospital for many years, and it's never going to change. WakeMed offers a high volume of free medical care to North Carolina families.




By Jon McNamara

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