Help with Health Care Costs

Help For Those Who Do Not Have Insurance

Help with Health Care Costs

Last updated: February 2, 2021

If you have recently lost access to health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are programs available to assist you.

Health Insurance Marketplace

The Health Insurance Marketplace was established by the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” This service helps people sign up for affordable health insurance.

Normally, you can only sign up for these plans in November and December. You may be able to enroll in health insurance at other times if you have certain “life events,” such as:

  • Losing health insurance coverage
  • Moving
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Adopting a child

In these cases, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This means that you have 60 days before or 60 days after the “life event” to enroll in a plan.

There is a monthly fee, called a premium, for insurance. You may qualify for a lower monthly premium depending on your income. You will be redirected to apply for Medicaid if you meet income guidelines.

Northwestern Medicine accepts these Health Insurance Marketplace plans:

  • BlueChoice Preferred PPO®
  • Blue Precision HMOSM
  • Cigna Plus with Northwestern Medicine

Not all primary care physicians are in-network with these plans. Check with your doctor if necessary.

For instructions on how to enroll in these plans, please call the Northwestern Medicine Health Resources Hotline at 312.926.7440. TTY 711.


Medicaid is a health insurance program available to some people based on income.

The Northwestern Medicine Financial Counseling Department can help you apply for Medicaid. Please call 800.423.0523 for assistance.

You can also apply for Medicaid online at or by calling the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) hotline at 800.843.6154.

If you qualify for Medicaid, you will need to choose a Medicaid managed care plan. Northwestern Medicine is in-network with these Medicaid managed care plans:

  • Blue Cross Community Health Plan
  • Meridian Health Plan
  • CountyCare (this option is only available for residents of Cook County)

If you are starting Medicaid: A few weeks after you apply, you should receive a letter that explains how to choose a Medicaid managed care plan. You will automatically be assigned a plan if you do not choose one by the date listed in the letter. If this happens, you may be assigned to a plan that Northwestern Medicine does not accept. Please contact Illinois Client Enrollment Services to choose a Medicaid managed care plan or make changes to an automatic assignment by calling 877.912.8880.

If you are enrolled in Medicaid: You need to fill out a form every year to show you are still eligible. This is called redetermination. If you do not complete this, your Medicaid coverage will end, and you will need to start a new application. Reminders to update the form are usually sent in the mail. To ensure you stay covered, please contact Illinois Client Enrollment Services at 877.912.8880.

Northwestern Medicine Financial Assistance Program

You may be able to receive free or discounted care through the Northwestern Medicine Financial Assistance Program. If you are unable to afford your medical bills, you may qualify for this program even if you have health insurance. The application for this program requires documentation about you and your household’s financial circumstances, such as your income and assets. Please call our Financial Counseling Department at 800.423.0523 for more information and to apply.

More information is available at

Paying for medication

Your health insurance plan may not cover the full cost of your medications. The Northwestern Medicine Financial Assistance Program does not cover medications. Consider the following if you need help paying for your medications.

Ask about coupons or patient assistance programs to lower your medication price from one of the following resources:

Good Rx

Needy Meds

Medicine Assistance Tool

RX Assist

Ask your pharmacist if they know of any co-payment assistance cards, free trial cards or other financial assistance options available for your medications.