Hospital Charity Care

Charity Care (also known as free care) includes free or deeply discounted medical services for uninsured, low-income Rhode Islanders. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island hospitals are working together to ensure access to essential health care services under this important community benefit.

How it works

Rhode Island requires hospitals to provide essential medical services, as defined in state regulations, to qualified charity care patients. Hospitals must not discourage patients who cannot afford to pay from seeking essential medical services, nor direct them to seek those services from other providers.


Eligibility for charity care is based on federal poverty guidelines for family size and income. Rhode Island charity care regulations generally apply to uninsured, low-income Rhode Island residents who are otherwise ineligible for state, federal, or employe- sponsored health insurance. See Section 23.14 of the Rhode Island Hospital Conversions regulations (216-RICR-20-10-23), "Provision of Charity Care, Uncompensated Care, and Community Benefits," for specific eligibility information.

What you should do

Hospitals are required to provide all eligible patients with necessary information to apply for charity care. For more information, talk to your hospital's financial services office. The RIDOH  Health Equity Institute can also answer your questions or concerns about Charity Care.