Jamie Kanter was living what she calls “a nightmare” after another vehicle slammed into hers on a Utah road this past March.
And the nightmare didn’t end after her surgery and slow recovery following the accident.
The active 31-year-old veterinary technician suffered a shattered spine, and was told she needed the surgery immediately or else might never walk again.
Even as a vet tech for 14 years, Jamie’s salary wasn’t enough to have money taken from her paycheck to pay for health insurance and still allow her to meet her day-to-day needs. So she was uninsured at the time of the accident.
Recovering afterward from the surgery at Utah’s Intermountain Medical Center, and facing major challenges like a month of bed rest afterward – which led to complete muscle atrophy and having to learn how to walk all over again – Jamie then was told she owed the hospital $43,000.
It looked like she would be “paying off medical bills for the rest of my life, or going into debt,” she says. “The $43,000 is more than I make in a year, or even in the next two.”
“It felt like the odds were stacked against me.”
But that was when, watching a TikTok video, she found out about Dollar For.
Dollar For helps patients like Jamie see if they are eligible for charity care to help them pay their hospital bills. Then it helps prepare and submit applications to decrease or even eliminate the bills for low and middle-income patients.
More than half of U.S. hospitals are nonprofit, and nonprofit hospitals must have charity care programs to keep their tax-exempt status. But many patients, like Jamie, don’t know there may be a way out from under their financial burden.
After Jamie learned about Dollar For, a trained Dollar For patient advocate helped her complete her application for assistance, and eventually, her bill was reduced more than $40,000, down to a much more manageable $1,300.
Friends are loaning her the money to pay her smaller hospital bill.
Asked what she would have done without Dollar For’s help, Jamie says now, “Honestly, I have no idea. In my head, it was going to be this thing that was going to hang over me for the rest of my life.”
“Everything on your guys’ end was amazing,” Jamie says of Dollar For, which was in constant contact with her through the application process. She initially thought the organization’s possible help sounded too good to be true, or “something that sounds illegal to know,” she recalls now with a laugh.
The hospital did give her advice about how to go about paying her bill, but it included telling her to apply for a loan “that I could never pay back,” says Jamie, who is back working at the same office where she was a vet tech. But, unable to lift the larger “patients,” she is working as an office receptionist.
After working with Dollar For, “my big takeaway was, don’t stop trying. There’s something out there.”