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7 Bills You Don’t Have to Pay If You’re Poor

7 Bills You Don’t Have to Pay If You’re Poor

Stop wasting your money on bills you don’t have to pay! There are government programs that can wipe out your phone bill, eliminate your internet bill and even cut your car insurance! 

I’ve spent the last 10 years researching low income programs and helping millions of people around the United States save money and get free stuff. Everything I’m about to tell you is very real – and you can check my sources! 

Medical Bills

First, let’s talk about Medicaid. This life-changing program once saved me $34,622.05 in a single day.

It was the spring of 2016, and my young son wanted to help unload the car. Instead of grabbing the usual easy things, he picked up a 10 pound can of refried beans… and then he tripped. The can landed on his thumb, breaking the bone in a way that nearly cut his thumb off entirely. It was traumatic and awful… and when I chased the ambulance to the nearest children’s hospital that day, I wasn’t even thinking about the money. 

A few weeks later, I received a bill for $34,622.05. The surgeon alone had billed $23,000 for a single hour of work. That, my friends, was more money that we made in a year. There’s no way we were going to be able to pay that. It just wasn’t going to happen.

When I called the hospital to talk about financial assistance, they encouraged me to apply for Medicaid. Medicaid is a government program that can fully pay your medical bills, if you are eligible.

Our son was approved right away and the coverage was retroactive. Under that state’s rules, anything that happened in the 90 days before the application was approved could be covered… so Medicaid paid the entire cost of my son’s hospital bill. We didn’t have to pay a penny. 

Now, this is where it gets complicated. Medicaid is a federal program that is administered by the states. That means there are some things that are universal to the entire country and some details that vary depending on where you live. 

In all states, Medicaid covers basic medical expenses including:

  • Doctor’s visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Labs
  • X-rays
  • Home health care services
  • Dental for children
  • Vision for children
  • Transportation to and from Medicaid-covered appointments

In some states, it’s even better because Medicaid can also cover medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, mental health services, behavioral health services, addiction recovery, dental and vision for adults and more. 

We were lucky to live in Washington when our crisis struck, because that state has one of the most comprehensive Medicaid programs in the country. They cover more services and more people, and they allow Medicaid to be retroactive for up to 90 days when you need it. 

That retroactive coverage is not something you can count on in all states, so it’s important to apply right away so that you have coverage before disaster strikes.

Some states cover all low income adults, and some only cover low income children, pregnant women and adults with disabilities. It just depends on where you live – but the worst they can do is say no, so it really doesn’t hurt to apply. 

To get started, you just need to apply with your state agency in charge of Medicaid. That’s usually the same agency that’s in charge of SNAP food benefits. Those applications are available online, so you should be able to Google ‘Medicaid Application’ with your state name and find it. 

Student Loans

Now, let’s talk about another program that has personally saved me around $5,000 a year: Income-Driven Repayment Plans for student loans.

The average student loan payment is around $400 a month, but you don’t need to worry about that if you’re low income. If you meet the income limits, you could get an IDR that will reduce your payments to literally ZERO. 

Imagine the relief of not worrying about that bill any more! It’s actually really easy to make this a reality.

You can apply for an IDR for free at StudentAid.gov/IDR. If you’d like some help with that process, you can also call the Student Relief Helpline by our sponsor, CareConnect USA, at 1-888-201-0431.

Taxes

Let’s shift gears and talk about taxes – not the most exciting topic, I know, but hear me out. When you’re low income, you may be able to skip some big tax bills.  

First, income taxes. Most of you know about how credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit can reduce your tax liability and even give you cash back every year, but almost 1 in 5 people who are eligible don’t claim it! That’s cash being left on the table. 

But there’s more – if you own your own home, you may be eligible for property tax exemptions, too! The median property tax payment is currently around $3,000, but you may not have to pay all of it or even any of it! 

When we owned our home in Washington, my husband qualified for the property tax exemption there but we didn’t find out until we’d already owned our home for nearly two years. I was so surprised when we turned in the paperwork, because it reduced our mortgage payments by over $100 – and we even received a refund check for a few thousand dollars. It was awesome!

Different states have different programs, so you’ll need to contact your state to find out what’s available to you. The State Department of Revenue or your county’s assessor’s office should be able to help you figure out what your options are. 

Phone Bills

Okay, so now let’s talk about your phone bill. The average phone bill is around $144 per person, which is almost $2,000 per year! That’s a lot of money – and it’s money you can put right back in your pocket if you qualify for the Lifeline program. 

This program can completely eliminate your cell phone bill as long as your income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You can also qualify if you participate in a means-tested program like SNAP, TANF or Medicaid. 

There are dozens of different Lifeline providers that offer different plans. My favorite Lifeline providers are Safelink and TruConnect, because they both offer free phones and free monthly service. I’ve talked about this in a recent video, so I won’t repeat it all here… but if you’re interested in that, go check out the video or click the affiliate link below. 

Internet Bills

Just make sure that when you sign up for Lifeline, you don’t accidentally use your ACP benefits too! ACP stands for the Affordable Connectivity Program – and when you sign up for it, it can completely eliminate your internet bill. 

Strictly speaking, this program is a subsidy that can pay up to $30 per month for your internet for a total savings of around $360 per year… but when you combine it with a low-cost internet program like Comcast Internet Essentials, you can get your internet without paying a penny for it. That’s a great way to eliminate another monthly bill. 

Car Registration

Once, in Washington, we couldn’t register our car because we couldn’t get it to pass the emissions test. The repairs were going to cost thousands and registration alone was going to cost hundreds. We just couldn’t do it; so we did our best to make do without it for a while. Of course, driving without insurance or registration can carry some very severe penalties. We got into an accident without insurance once and it was terrible. My husband’s license was suspended for years as a result… but when you’re broke, you do what you have to do to survive, right? 

The good news is that there are programs that can help. Ironically, about 10 years after our registration crisis, we found out that we qualified for free lifetime vehicle registration in Washington State because of my husband’s status as a disabled veteran. We literally never had to register our car again!

There are programs like this in many states. If you are a low income veteran, you may be able to get help with your vehicle registration. In some states, you can save 50-100% on the registration fees. It’s incredible. Here’s a list.

Car Insurance

Now let’s talk about car insurance. I’ve known more than a few people who drive without current tabs because they can’t afford them… and statistically, about 13% of all drivers in the United States don’t carry car insurance. That’s about 1 in 8 drivers. Many of them don’t have it simply because they can’t afford to pay for it.  

I get it. When we were broke, car insurance and car registration were easy bills to skip. It had less immediate consequences than, say, skipping the rent or the phone bill. I completely understand why so many people go without it. 

The good news is that you may also be able to get car insurance without paying as much for it. There are a few states that offer low income car insurance to their residents. 

For example, California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance Program offers extremely low-cost auto insurance for eligible drivers. The premiums are as low as $232 per YEAR depending on where you live. That’s less than $20 per month on average!

Hawaii and New Jersey also offer discounted low income auto insurance plans to eligible drivers, although the requirements and details vary between states. 

For more information about these plans, check out our low income auto insurance guide.

Summary

The seven programs we’ve reviewed today could save you thousands of dollars every year! This is money that you can use to pay other bills that are breaking your budget, like rent or car payments. It only takes a few steps to sign up for these programs and they could make a big difference to your overall financial wellness, so start now!

Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.