Alexandria Venable spends most of her time taking care of others.
The Dallas-Fort Worth Area social worker is a single mother to three-year-old daughter Scarlett while she balances up to 25 cases at a time for children in foster care.
Alexandria became worried when her “intelligent, well spoken, inquisitive, funny, empathetic” daughter’s mood changed as she became ill.
She took Scarlett to Cook Children’s Hospital twice in April 2022, in part for what doctors diagnosed as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The virus typically causes a cough, fever, runny nose and difficulty breathing. It infects about 58,000 children under age 5 each year in the U.S. with signs of a longer peak season and higher infection rates in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The two hospital visits netted over $5,000 in bills during an unexpected lapse in health insurance for the child while her father was between jobs.
After getting the bills, Alexandria cried to a friend, feeling frustrated and hopeless. While working 10-12 hour days, she was already on a payment plan for a similarly sized bill from a different hospital for an earlier ear surgery Scarlett had.
The friend recommended Alexandria look into Dollar For, a national nonprofit that crushes medical bills by making charity care known, easy, and fair.
Millions of Americans are on payment plans or declaring bankruptcy for medical bills they shouldn’t have to pay. The Affordable Care Act requires nonprofit hospitals to offer financial assistance programs to keep their tax-exempt status. Unfortunately, these programs can be hard to access. That’s where Dollar For comes in.
In a few minutes, Alexandria filled out Dollar For’s eligibility form. She learned that she would probably qualify for charity care from Cook Children’s.
Then Dollar For helped submit an aid application on Alexandria’s behalf at no charge. In just over a month, she received a notice in the hospital’s app that the new balance on her account was $0. Her bill was completely waived.
“I had no words, it was so unexpected and I was just relieved like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” Alexandria said.
She and Scarlett celebrated with a dance party in the kitchen. The $5,000 is going towards other household bills and making sure they’re protected for any future surprise expense.
Alexandria has already shared her story to help other friends deal with overwhelming hospital bills. Now she’s sharing it with you.
Read more about Alexandria and Dollar For in Fast Company.
Do you have medical debt? See if you qualify for free help from Dollar For by filling out a three-minute questionnaire.