Couple Receives Lifesaving Help After a Lifesaving Medical Intervention

Larry & Debbie Moehnke
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When Larry Moehnke’s 59-year-old wife Debbie suffered a massive heart attack in August 2018 in a Vancouver, WA medical clinic waiting room, he felt grateful they were in the right place at the right time – with healthcare professionals onsite who quickly sent Debbie to a local hospital by ambulance.

Once Debbie was stable, it was clear she needed advanced and urgent cardiac care, so she was sent across the river to Portland’s Oregon Health & Science University hospital. There, Debbie underwent heart bypass surgery, and she also had one valve repaired and another replaced. Soon afterwards, while still recovering in hospital, she developed a severe infection that required strong intravenous antibiotics and an extended stay. Debbie spent one month in the hospital – including time in the Intensive Care Unit – before being discharged.

Massive Medical Bill

Relieved that Debbie was finally on the mend, Larry took time off from his job as a truck driver to care for his wife at home. That’s when the couple was slapped with another crisis: medical bills totalling more than $454,550.

“When you receive a bill like that, you’re thinking, oh my God, I’m done; what am I going to do? How am I going to take care of this?” says Larry, 70.

Larry Moehnke

“When you receive a bill like that, you’re thinking, oh my God, I’m done; what am I going to do? How am I going to take care of this?” says Larry, 70.

Officials told the Moehnkes their health insurance would only cover part of that amount, leaving them with a staggering $226,591 debt to pay.

“The insurance company said the last two weeks in the hospital wasn’t an emergency. Well, maybe it wasn’t an emergency, but the hospital wouldn’t release her,” says Larry.

High Bill High Stress

One of the reasons Debbie’s bill was sky-high is that she received lifesaving treatment at an out-of-network hospital. But nobody informed the couple they could change hospitals, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars, or even that staying at the OHSU hospital would cost them out of pocket.

So, for the next six months following Debbie’s medical crisis, the Moehnke’s experienced extreme stress and were hounded by collection agencies. Larry and Debbie also weren’t aware that that they could contest the bill with their insurance company, or that they qualified for medical debt forgiveness.

Medical Debt Relief

Then, the Washington state insurance commission alerted Dollar For, which matches individuals with debt forgiveness programs. The non-profit organization contacted the couple and began the process to resolve their outstanding bills. The Moehnke’s applied for a medical charity care waiver.

It took about a month for the Dollar For team to get Debbie’s debt erased, and Larry says when it was all over, he finally felt free.

“Jared did such a great job. It was like somebody lifted a thousand pounds off my chest,” says Larry.

Sadly, Debbie passed away in September. Larry says he will always be grateful to Dollar For.

“Having that debt erased relieved a lot of stress for us; Jared took care of everything,” he says.

Dollar For has helped couples like Debbie and Larry receive close to $2.8 million in medical debt relief. Find out more about how we enforce hospitals’ Charity Care policies.