What happens if I can't pay? A guide to hospital financial assistance

For thousands of low-income Alabama workers, delayed health care and rising medical debt have become hard facts of life in recent years. The Great Recession, with its record unemployment and attendant reduction in health coverage, has added thousands to the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured. Many Alabama hospitals have a long history of offering free or reduced-cost care, also called charity care, for patients who can't afford to pay their hospital bills. Such care is a critical part of the health care safety net, as well as a key component of a hospital's community benefits program.

View our slideshow on hospital financial assistance in Alabama.

Read our handout on new requirements for nonprofit hospitals in the Affordable Care Act.