Despite having health insurance, Ricarda Cruz Arroyo faced more than $5,000 in medical bills after an emergency gallbladder surgery and a swollen pancreas kept her in the hospital for nearly a week. She and her husband paid two of the smaller bills, but the hospital sent the largest one to a collections agency.
For months, staff at Integris Baptist Medical Center delayed Ricarda’s application for debt relief.
They took weeks to respond to questions about the application status. More than once, they misplaced her paperwork.
Fortunately, Ricarda did not have to face the delays and disorganization on her own. After a series of frustrating exchanges with Integris staff about paperwork, she got in touch with Dollar For, which her sister told her about after watching Dollar For’s viral TikTok video about medical debt forgiveness. “I looked into it,” said Ricarda, and thought “you know, I’m going to give it a shot.”
Ricarda filled out the form to check her eligibility for hospital financial assistance — just a few questions about her bill and income that can be answered in minutes. She quickly found that she was eligible, then filled out a longer form to provide all the information Dollar For needed to file her application with the hospital.
From then on, when Ricarda emailed her Patient Advocate with a question, they would respond within one or two days, she said. Even when there was no news because Integris hadn’t followed up on Ricarda’s application for weeks, the Patient Advocate still checked in to tell her they had contacted the hospital again to get a response. “I always had someone reaching out to me,” she said. “I really appreciated that.”
It took months, but eventually the persistence of Ricarda and Dollar For paid off. Ricarda received a letter that said 94% of her bill would be forgiven. Because Ricarda had already paid more than the 6% of the bill she was responsible for, Integris mailed her a reimbursement check.
Getting her medical debt forgiven could not have come at a more crucial time for Ricarda, who is pregnant with her first child and was recently laid off. She and her husband had tried adjusting their finances to make sure they had enough for current bills and for the baby, but wiping out her medical bills gave them certainty and removed a worry.
“Once we got that letter saying that our bill is forgiven,” she recalled, “I was just like, ‘Wow. God answered my prayers.’”