Elsa Ramos takes care of others full-time as a personal care assistant. After an emergency room visit, the 23-year-old Connecticut resident was in need of some assistance herself.
Elsa’s E.R. visit cost her $431 with health insurance. That equates to about three months of electric bills for the average Connecticut resident and just over the average monthly cost of groceries for a two-person home.
Elsa had previously seen an Instagram post by Dollar For, a non-profit crushing medical bills by making charity care known, easy, and fair. It believes a medical crisis shouldn’t mean a financial crisis. She filled out the eligibility form in just a few minutes, then uploaded pictures of the documents her hospital requires for charity applications.
“It was so easy. I was really shocked that there’s resources like this for free available for people in this situation,” Elsa said.
The Affordable Care Act requires nonprofit hospitals to offer charity care programs to keep their tax-exempt status. These financial assistance programs reduce or eliminate medical bills for low-to-middle income patients like Elsa.
After Dollar For submitted a financial assistance application to Waterbury Hospital on Elsa’s behalf, she routinely checked in on the status of the application.
A few weeks turned into months with unsuccessful attempts to talk to anyone at the hospital. Dollar For stayed with Elsa through the entire process until she received notice that she qualified for a 60% reduction of her bill, three months after her hospital visit.
The discounted bill became much more manageable for Elsa to pay, eliminating a major stressor and allowing her to focus on taking care of her own patients.
“It meant I didn’t have to choose between paying my light and medical bills,” Elsa said.
Since 2019, Dollar For has worked with patients to submit thousands of financial assistance applications, crushing millions of dollars in medical debt. (See the latest total.) Our services are completely free.
Anyone eligible for charity care can choose to receive full service from Dollar For staff to prepare and submit a charity care application to their hospital. Applicants can also self-advocate. We give instructions, tips and tools by text and email to submit the financial assistance application on your own.
Hospitals usually respond to applications within three weeks. If they don’t, Dollar For even offers tips for applicants to call the hospital.
“Be patient. It can take awhile but you will get through it as long as you’re patient and speak up. Take the time to apply and make any calls. It will work out,” Elsa said.
Do you have medical debt? See if you qualify for free help from Dollar For by filling out a three-minute questionnaire.