Most hospitals offer charity care. Check out our list of frequently asked questions about charity care and Dollar For’s services.
Charity care basics
Most hospitals offer discounts or bill forgiveness based on income. This is called “charity care.” Each hospital sets its own policy and rules. Patients can apply through their hospital to these financial assistance programs.
Eligibility for charity care at a hospital is usually based on income level, household size, and the age of the bill. Learn more about charity care.
The Affordable Care Act requires nonprofit hospitals to offer charity care. Many for-profit hospitals also offer some sort of financial assistance.
Charity care is not a pot of money that hospitals give out. It can’t be “used up” and it’s not provided by charities. Instead, charity care is a hospital’s way of showing that it provides a benefit to the local community. If you apply, you aren’t taking away money that could be used for anyone else.
If you are approved for financial assistance, the hospital writes off your bill like it never existed. They report the total amount of debt that they forgive each year to the IRS and might even get paid by the government for waiving your bill.
Nonprofit hospitals must consider applications for all bills less than 240 days old, even if the bill has already been sent to collections. Some hospitals will consider applications for bills older than 240 days. Use our screening tool to find out if your bill still qualifies for help based on your hospital’s policy.
If a patient qualifies for charity care, the law requires nonprofit hospitals to refund any payments made towards that bill. Dollar For can help you fight for a refund. Use our contact form to ask for help.
Each hospital sets its own guidelines for if or how it provides financial assistance to insured patients. Many hospitals, but not all, will waive debt not covered by insurance companies. Dollar For will try to help anyone, regardless of insurance status. Learn more about dealing with charity care when you have insurance.
Learn more about different bill types.
Doctors and others who work at hospitals sometimes bill patients separately. Unfortunately, the charity care rules only apply to nonprofit hospitals. These other providers will not automatically forgive your bills if you qualify for hospital charity care.
We recommend that you start by getting charity care approval from the hospital. Then give copies of the approval letter to the doctors and other practitioners. They might adjust your bill to meet what the hospital offers you. For example, if the hospital forgave 100% of your bill, then they might too. If the hospital forgave 50%, then they may cut your bill in half to match that decision.
Getting help from Dollar For
Dollar For can check if your hospital bill is eligible for charity care, prepare and submit your applications, and help you crush that bill. Our services are completely free–no strings attached.
Dollar For doesn’t pay your bills. We help you apply for your hospital’s financial assistance program. We will do our best to help you get that bill waived, but ultimately, it is the hospital’s decision if a patient will receive financial assistance. Learn what to expect when you get help from Dollar For.
Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Our services are totally free.
We receive financial support from donors, foundations, and corporations that make it possible to serve you for free. We don’t charge you a dime—and we won’t sell your data to make money. We believe that a medical crisis shouldn’t mean a financial crisis and we are here to help.
Dollar For is a small team working hard to help a lot of people. Unfortunately, we are not able to answer or return phone calls at this time. You can use our contact form to ask us a question anytime.
Under federal law, nonprofit hospitals must accept a financial assistance application for 240 days (about 8 months) after they send you the first post-discharge bill.
Dollar For will do our best to meet the deadline but we can’t guarantee it. It’s your responsibility to make sure your application is submitted before the deadline. Your rights to financial assistance may differ based on state law or hospital policy
If you haven’t yet received the bill, it’s ok to make an estimate. You can update us later when you know the actual amount you owe.
When you list bill amounts, please share the amount you owe after insurance, Medicaid, health shares, or any other payers have contributed. We want to know how much you personally owe to the hospital.
Most hospitals consider everyone listed on the tax returns as part of the household. For example, if you are married with 3 kids, you would include all five members of your household. If you live with roommates or other adult members of your family but don’t list them on your tax returns, they would not count in your household. Read our household definitions for more examples.
If you don’t have an email address, our screening tool has the option to let us know that. You will still have to provide a mobile number so that we have some way to get in touch with you. However, we encourage you to provide your email to us. A lot of hospitals communicate by email, and we want to make it easy for you to get this bill waived.
Dollar For’s services are available in both English and Spanish. Use the menu at the bottom of the page to switch to Spanish. Our team can work with you in Spanish through our entire process.
If you need help in another language, we recommend finding someone to be your translator. We are happy to help you by working with someone else or will do our best using Google Translate. Hospitals are also required to offer assistance in languages that are common in their community, so you could call them to see if they can help you directly.
No. Dollar For will not ask you about your citizenship status, nor will we share this information with your hospital. Some hospitals only give financial assistance to citizens or legal residence. If your hospital needs your citizenship status for your application, you can decide if you want to share it with them.
Some non-citizens can have trouble providing the documents requested by the hospital. Dollar For can help you to figure out what to submit instead.
Even if Dollar For works with you to apply for hospital financial assistance, Dollar For doesn’t act as your agent.
If you need legal advice about an issue related to charity care or medical bills, we suggest you reach out to the free legal resources in your state.
If you need help with an issue related to insurance or other billing issues, check out the resources here.
Tips on filling out the patient questionnaire
To get help from Dollar For, you must submit our complete patient form. We need all that information we need to apply to the hospital on your behalf.
This will include information about your bill, your income, and your expenses. You’ll also have to upload some documents. Hospitals want proof that the financial information you have told them is true. By showing them your pay stubs, tax forms, and bank statements, you are showing them that you really are eligible for financial assistance. They probably won’t approve your application if you don’t provide these documents.
Yes. When you use our screening tool, you’ll have the option to choose to apply on your own. We’ll send you instructions and reminders to work through the process, and will answer your questions anytime you need help.
When you fill out the patient questionnaire, you’ll have the option to list yourself as a helper if you want to be the contact for that patient.
Please do this only if you want all communication from Dollar For and the hospital to go to you. Otherwise, please provide contact information for the patient.
Once you complete the eligibility screener, our form will allow you to list multiple bills for each location where you request help.
If your bills are at different locations, you will be able to add additional hospitals in the form. Please don’t add bills for more than one hospitals in the same “hospital” or “visit” section. Remember, each hospital has its own policy for who qualifies and how to apply.
If several members of your family have bills from the same hospital, you will need to fill out the form for each patient who was billed.
Most hospitals require a copy of your most recent tax returns and the 3 most recent pay stubs for every working member of your household. Learn more about different types of documents that might be required.
You can download your most recent tax returns or a copy of your non-filing determination letter from the IRS here.
Many hospitals also require your 3 most recent bank statements. They ask for these to check if the income you shared on the application matches the deposits in your account. Don’t worry, they won’t be looking at how or where you have spent your money.
If you aren’t currently working, you’ll need to provide unemployment or Social Security benefit letters. If you don’t have any formal sources of income, we recommend you write a letter that explains how you are paying for your expenses. This might include receiving several hundred dollars a month from a friend or family member, or living off your savings. No matter what it is, it’s ok, just be truthful and explain your situation.
If there is something you need more time to get or if you are helping someone fill out this form over the phone, it’s ok to submit the patient questionnaire without all of the documents.
Afterwards, please make sure to email us documents or use the upload link we provide in your confirmation email.
Keep in mind: The hospital will need all of these documents in order to approve your application. Make sure you get them to us as quickly as possible so that we can help you crush this bill.
Our questionnaire has a place for you to share any special information you think we should know about your case.
We don’t need to know anything about your medical diagnosis or treatment, but it is helpful for us to know if you have had a major change to your finances recently. Be sure to highlight any recent job losses or changes.
What to do after your application is submitted
Congrats! You will know you are done submitting your form when you see the confirmation page. You’ll also get a text and an email confirming that we have received your form, including an upload link if you need to send us more documents.
Over the next 4 weeks, our team will prepare your custom hospital financial assistance application. Please be patient. We are a small team trying to help a lot of people. If your bill is over $15,000, we will send you a copy of the application to review before we submit it.
We’ll send another text and email when we have sent the application to the hospital. This will include instructions on what to expect next.
We will send you emails and texts every few weeks to check in with you about the status of your application. Please make sure you write back to us to let us know what you have heard from your hospital.
Your hospital is will probably not communicate directly with Dollar For, even if we ask it to. That means we need to hear from you to figure out what to do next. Please watch for communications from the hospital and stay in touch with us! Our goal is to help you crush that bill.
Most hospitals call, email, mail you a letter, or send a message through their online portal about 3 weeks after your application is submitted. Be on the lookout for those messages. They may look like bills, but it’s important to read them carefully because they might have information about your application.
If you don’t hear anything within 3 weeks, please call the hospital’s financial assistance department (or the phone number on your bill) to make sure they received your application. You can find more tips on making this call here.
No matter what you hear, please keep us informed. You can respond to any of our earlier emails or texts to be in touch.
At some hospitals, different teams handle financial assistance and billing. That may be why you are still getting bills in the mail. If you receive a bill, it’s really important to call the hospital for an update! Read more about how to make follow up calls here.
The hospital will make the decision to approve or deny you for financial assistance. Our screener tells us if you meet the basic requirements, but there are a lot of reasons that a hospital might deny someone for charity care. Dollar For will do our best to help you, but we can’t guarantee we can eliminate your bill. Read our full Terms of Service here.