Karla Rodriguez, 30, had been working toward bettering her credit and improving her finances as the country continued to recover from the pandemic, in Jan. 2021. She would also soon discover she was pregnant.
But the progress she’d made toward a financially stable future was nearly derailed when she received an urgent phone call following a routine blood test.
“They said, ‘Actually something’s really wrong. You need to get yourself to the nearest hospital.’ You don’t usually ever get a call like that, so my husband and a friend that happened to be with us at that time, we drove to the hospital,” Karla recalled.
Once she arrived at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, Karla said she was told her protein levels were very low and she could suffer a stroke or related heart problems.
All the while, Karla said she felt physically fine. After more blood work and being monitored for symptoms, she was given clearance to go home.
“I don’t know if it was a mistake on someone’s end, or what happened, but it was a visit that could have been completely avoided, really,” Karla said. The cost of rushing to the hospital on that rainy night totaled $2,000.
Karla was unemployed, thus uninsured, when she received the medical bill. She had other expenses to prioritize and was left feeling overwhelmed.
“I was pregnant at the time, and so I didn’t feel that I would be able to pay it,” she said.
In the United States, costs for pregnancy and childbirth average a total of $18,865 and the average out-of-pocket payments total $2,854, according to a study by the Kaiser Famly Foundation.
Months after being billed for her blood tests, and fearing how the new debt would impact her finances, Karla said she heard about Dollar For through an Instagram post. Because she was not sure how much help she could get, however, she said she stalled on following up with Dollar For and the hospital.
It wasn’t until 2022 that Karla knew she could no longer put off doing something about her bill. “When I started getting those notices of, ‘Your bill is going to go into collections,’ that’s when I became a little more proactive. I started following up with the folks that said that they can help me and they were really great,” Karla said.
She resubmitted her application with Dollar For in Aug. 2022. Three months later, her bill had been fully waived.
Now a new mom, Karla is also a new legal assistant at a law firm in Los Angeles. She said she and her husband have traded roles in that he is currently a stay-at-home parent while she continues to build up the family’s savings.
“Even though it took a long time on the hospital’s end to approve and to actually finalize the process, it definitely was worth it overall,” Karla said of reaching out to Dollar For for help. “At the end of the day, nobody returns $2,000 to you,” she added.