Sally Whitesides

“I had no idea this was available.”

patient SallyAs Dollar For helps more people get their medical debt forgiven, stories about our work spread online in news articles and social media, including TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter. Sally Whitesides, a high school special education teacher in Woodbridge, Ill., learned about Dollar For in a Discord chat room for fans of an online gamer she follows.

Sally, 32, had been venting her frustration about the medical bills she faced, which she didn’t know how she was going to pay, when another member of the chat mentioned Dollar For. They explained that Dollar For helps people apply for hospital bill forgiveness through financial assistance programs, also called charity care, that all nonprofit hospitals are required by law to operate in order to keep their tax status. 

“I had no idea that this was available,” said Sally. Nobody at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital had mentioned that the hospital had a way to help her with her bills for an emergency room visit, surgery, and follow-up visits for kidney stones and cysts. The bills arrived right after the school year ended and Sally was without a paycheck all summer.

After reading the chat room post and checking out Dollar For, Sally decided to fill out the online eligibility form. A Patient Advocate submitted the application on Sally’s behalf. One day, Sally got an automated phone call from Adventist La Grange. When she returned the call, she learned that all but about $40 of her debt had been forgiven. Not long after that, she also received a check from the hospital to refund the amount that she had previously paid toward her bill.

Sally spoke of the relief of getting her hospital bills forgiven.

“Being a teacher, you don’t make a ton of money,” she said. Even if she had taken a second job for the summer and extra work during the school year, she may have owed the hospital money for years. “It was daunting,” she said.

Thankful for the help from Dollar For, she made sure to go online and share her experience with members of the Discord chat. “It’s scary that this is out there,” she said, “and people don’t know about it.” She wants others to know that organizations like Dollar For exist “to help walk you through the process” and deal with the hospital staff if there are any complications. “It is worth it,” she said.

Sally also used the self-advocacy skills she learned from Dollar For to save even more money. She reached out to the ambulance provider that brought her to the emergency room. Despite having no debt relief program, the company asked Sally to write a letter with financial information attached. She did, and her bill was forgiven.

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