After getting his medical bill for a trip to the E.R., Alex Recinos did all the right things to get his bill forgiven.
He promptly filed an application for his hospital’s financial assistance program, also known as charity care. When the hospital — Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles County — didn’t respond, he visited their business office in person to check on the status of his application.
Over the next six months, Alex checked in with the business office several times. Each time he went, Torrance Memorial staff told Alex that they were working on his application but didn’t share any details about when they would have a decision.
“They just kept shooing me away,” Alex said.
Alex looked for other resources that might help, including his employer’s health insurer, but the insurance company would not help. “I was just left in the wind with this,” Alex said.
Nearly a year after Alex received his first bill from the hospital, they sent another. Torrance Memorial told Alex they were denying his application for charity care.
Despite his disappointment, Alex was not ready to give up. He had seen a video on Instagram about how Dollar For helps people get their medical bills forgiven by helping them apply for charity care. Alex had never heard of Dollar For, and he had already applied and been rejected for charity care. But, Alex said, “I’d rather give it a shot than not.”
After filling out a three-minute form on Dollar For’s website, Alex learned that he probably was eligible for financial assistance. He got help from Dollar For’s Patient Advocates, staff who have been trained to guide people through the charity care application process and who make sure that the hospital follows up. They have helped forgive more than $20 million dollars in medical debt for patients across the U.S.
“They were always in constant communication, checking on me [to see] if I received any bills [or if] the hospital had contacted me,” Alex said.
Less than three months after starting work with Dollar For, Alex was contacted by Torrance Memorial. This time, his application was approved. His whole bill had been forgiven.
Why was Alex’s second application accepted when it was similar to his first, rejected appeal? Alex believes it’s because this time, the hospital saw that he had experts advocating for him. “They might have [thought], ‘Alright, this guy isn’t playing around,’” he said.
Alex has already encouraged two friends with medical debt to fill out Dollar For’s eligibility questionnaire. They were skeptical at first, but Alex explained how Dollar For had helped him. He showed them proof that his bill had been forgiven.
“I told them, ‘Hey, it worked for me,’” he said, and encouraged them to try.
“Look — it’s either going to be a Yes or it’s going to be a No. I’d rather give it a shot than to be left wondering.”