Healthcare Costs

Can’t Pay Your Medical Bills? How to Find Help…

If you are currently struggling to pay for healthcare costs, don’t have health insurance, or can’t afford your health insurance, this article can help you. If your currently are able to pay for health insurance, or make more than 400% of the Federal Poverty Line ($4,020 a month for individuals, $6,807 for a 3 person family) this article is not meant to help you.

In the United States, 14%  of the population, 43 million Americans, lives in poverty. Americans living in poverty make less than $1,005 a month as an individual, or $1,702 as a 3 person family. For many Americans, this number seems impossibly low, but for these brave men and women, this is their day to day reality.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 60% of Americans make below 400% of the poverty line. (less than $4,020 for individuals, $6,807 for a family of 3) That is 126 million Americans.

Historically, Americans help each other. In his 1989 inaugural address, President George H.W. Bush called for Americans to become “points of light” for each other; providing help to those in need. Nowhere are these points of light more needed than in healthcare. For people who find healthcare costs painful or overwhelming, significant help is available, you just have to find it.

There are a variety of organizations and systems in both the public and private sector that work as points of light. Government Programs like Medicare and Medicaid, Patient Assistance Programs in Physician’s offices, Low-Income Assistance Programs in Hospital settings, and Pharmaceutical Company programs are just a few points of light.

Despite many points of lights in the US, many Americans have difficulty finding them because they lack familiarity or access too the Internet, or simply, cannot afford to take the time off work to search on their own. We invite you to share this article and become a point of light for Americans who cannot find light on their own.


How to Prepare to Get Assistance 

Find Where You Lie on the US Federal Poverty Line

Most points of light determine who is eligible for assistance based on where they lie on the US Poverty Line. Using the simple method below, you can find your place on the poverty line. Armed with this knowledge, you can start to the help you desperately need, fast.

First, calculate your monthly income. If you receive child support or alimony payments, do no include them in your monthly income. If any other family members also work and provide income, add their income to your own. This combined income is called your household income.

If you need more help estimating your household income, visit Estimating Income Help at

Second, calculate the number of members in your family that depend upon your household income. This can be children, grandparents, etc. Your pets however, do not count as dependent.

Third, compare your number to the chart below to see where you fall on the poverty line.

 This chart takes the most important percentages from the Department of Health and Human Services 2017 Poverty Guidelines

Fourth, proof of income (tax returns or  two months of pay stub or bank statements, or a written self-declaration of income). This proof of income is needed for points of light to ensure proper distribution of assistance.

Five, personal identification such as a state drivers license or government-issued ID card.

Six, if you need prescription help, then you need a written 90 day prescription with 3 refills from your physician.

Once these six steps are complete, you are ready to get help from a point of light near you.

The Brightest Points of Light

1. Medicare

If you are receiving Medicare and make less than $1,377 a month, or $1,847 as a married couple, you can qualify for extra assistance.

There are several programs available. In order to understand and apply for these programs, please visit the Center for Medicare Services.

Medicare Extra Help- Is a program that provides help paying for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. It can help pay premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments. If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Prescription Drug Program, you can apply for Extra Help by visiting the Social Security Administration’s Extra Help Page.

2. Medicaid

If you are making less than the poverty line, ($12,060 or $20,420 for a family of 3), visit your state site as you may qualify for Medicaid, a healthcare program for low income individuals and families. Depending upon your state, different programs within Medicaid are available, please check with your specific state for more information. has an excellent tool that will tell you if you qualify for your state’s Expanded Medicaid program.

(For Georgia, you can find out more from the Department of Community Health)

If you enroll in Medicaid in the state of Georgia, but are not enrolled in Medicare, you must enroll in the Georgia Families program. This program guides you in choosing a primary care provider and health plan. Call 1-888-GA-Enroll or visit Georgia Families  for more information.

3. Children’s Health Insurance Program

If you have children, this is by far the most important item in this article. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will provide health insurance coverage  for your children at little to no cost. To get more information and learn how to qualify, please visit Medicaid CHIP Information and contact the state you live in using the list on this page.

4. Tax Credits

The IRS also provides a “tax credit” to help families pay their health insurance premiums. A tax credit is essentially money off your taxes that must go towards your insurance premium. It will help you pay only if your insurance was purchased through your a Health Insurance Marketplace. To learn more about tax credits visit IRS Premium Tax Credit or speak with a tax professional.

5. Hospital Financial Services

If you are admitted to the hospital and are below 400% of the poverty line ($48,240 for individuals) ask to see a social services representative before you are discharged. Most hospitals have a low income assistance program that will help you pay for or discount, surgeries, procedures etc. They also provide significant discounts for those who pay out of pockets. For examples of these programs in the Georgia area, see Piedmont (Athens Regional), Saint Mary’s or Emory Healthcare Financial Services.

6. Physicians Assistance Programs

Most physicians want to see you healthy and taking your medicine and are willing to write off some of the financial burden to their patients. These Patient Assistance Programs will typically help anyone who makes 200% above the poverty line or less. (For 2017 this number is $24,120 or $40,840 for a family of 3) For more information, contact the Physicians Circle for Patients (PCP) or visit their website at Physicians Circle for Patients.

7. Pharmaceutical Companies

Most pharmaceutical companies have low assistance programs and will provide medication at minimal cost to you for 1 year. Typically they require proof of income and a completed application. For a more complete list of medications and to find out if they have any discount or assistance programs, visit You can call PCP at 706-395-2269 or visit their website for assistance applying to these programs. Many other programs are available through the internet.

8. Non-profit Organizations

If you in a special category such as pregnancy, drug addiction, physical disability, etc, there are a wide variety of non-profit organizations available to assist you with grants for healthcare on a case by case basis. Many patient assistance programs like PCP will help you apply to those. Call your doctor’s office directly to see if there are any organizations they work with.

If you have a mental disability or illness, many states have special programs designed for your needs. In Georgia there are over 2.3 million people suffering from mental illness. You do not need to suffer alone. Organizations like Mental Health America of Georgia are dedicated to those trapped inside their own minds. For counseling services in the Atlanta area, visit Care and Counseling Center of Georgia.

If you need immediate help, please visit the Physicians Circle for Patients website, call the Physicians Circle for Patients (PCP) 706-395-2269 Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm, or email and ask how you can receive help on things like prescription costs, doctor’s visits and more. Our trained professionals can help you find resources you need to stay healthy.


We at Physicians Circle for Patients invite other points of lights to join hands to make healthcare costs affordable for all Americans.

Subodh K. Agrawal MD

Physicians Circle for Patients


How to Help Your Doctor Make Your Healthcare Less…

Did you know that you have the power to help lower your healthcare costs? For many people the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” only made healthcare more expensive. But hidden deep in the text was a program that allowed doctors to take back control from insurance companies. This plan, called Accountable Care Organizations, allowed doctors to exercise more control over the price of medical care for their Medicare patients.

A TV That Saves Lives

Think of it as buying a television, says Harold Miller, president and CEO of the Center for Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform in Pittsburgh, Pa. A TV manufacturer like Sony may contract with many suppliers to build sets. Like Sony does for TVs, Miller says, an ACO brings together the different component parts of care for the patient – primary care, specialists, hospitals, home health care, etc. – and ensures that all of the “parts work well together.” This allows doctors to stay independent and not have to join hospitals, where profits are often put ahead of patient care. The problem with most health systems today, Miller says, is that patients are getting each part of their health care separately. “People want to buy individual circuit boards, not a whole TV,” he says. “If we can show them that the TV works better, maybe they’ll buy it,” rather than assembling a patchwork of services themselves. It is organizations like these that will make sure our children are able to benefit from the Medicare program. A stronger, comprehensive healthcare plan like ACO’s will lead to cheaper medical care that focuses on the patient rather than their pocketbook.

Family First Healthcare- Doctors ACO member

So if you want to be a real patriot, and affect real, lasting change on the shape of healthcare today, see a doctor that is part of an ACO. If you already see Dr. Agrawal or any of the Family First Healthcare providers, you’re in good hands. They are all a part of Doctors ACO, a local Georgia ACO that has been serving the community for years.

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Electrical Current May Ease Neuropathy Pain

An interesting look at the new world of pain management!

One of the first devices to hit the market is Sensus, by NeuroMetrix. Available by prescription, it relies on external electrical stimulation of nerves and nerve pathways to lessen and control DPN pain in the feet and legs. The device is designed to wrap around the calf under your clothes, and is secured by a Velcro band that adjusts to fit almost any body size.

for more information visit:

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Athens Lavonia Georgia Pain Management Healthcare

Types and Side Effects of Opiates

Types and Side Effects of Opiates Opiates are painkillers that have legal and illegal forms. Many doctors prescribe the following opiates to treat pain: Opium: Healthcare professionals often prescribed this drug before the 20th century Morphine: This opiate is the primary drug for people in hospitals with severe pain Codeine: This drug is similar to morphine, but milder Heroin: This opiate is illegal in the US as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means it is extremely dangerous Methadone: Healthcare professionals prescribe methadone to address opiate withdrawal symptoms, because it is slow-acting and can satisfy cravings Opiates can cause the following side effects: Decreased heart rate and blood pressure Digestive problems, such as constipation, nausea and vomiting Euphoria Extreme drowsiness Lower body temperature Respiratory failure These drugs are extremely powerful on their own, and much more so when combined with alcohol. Side Effects of Alcohol Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the body, but it can also lead to the following side effects: Blackouts Drowsiness Digestive problems, such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting Headaches Decreased coordination Loss of consciousness Seek professional help if you abuse either of these drugs, but especially so if you abuse them at the same time. Effects of Combining Opiates and Alcohol These two substances can each damage the body, but exponentially so when combined. As a report from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service explains, opiates both intensify the sedative effects of alcohol while making unconsciousness and respiratory failure more likely. This report also explains that mixing the two substances significantly increases a person’s likelihood of overdose. A 2010 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that nearly 19,000 people who entered alcohol rehab also abused opiates. This report further states that nearly 28,000 people in opiate rehab also abused alcohol. These numbers suggest that a significant portion of the US population struggles with opiate and alcohol abuse. Treating Opiate and Alcohol Abuse Seek professional help to recover from opiate and alcohol abuse, because the withdrawal symptoms from detox can be severe and life-threatening. Dr. Adi Jaffe explains that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can cause fever, nausea, diarrhea and delirium tremens, while opiate withdrawals can similarly cause serious side effects. In other words, you can die if you detox from these substances without professional help. Find Treatment for Opiate and Alcohol Abuse Abusing either opiates or alcohol is dangerous, but using these two substances together is even more risky.