Three years ago, Savannah Newton and her husband brought their first daughter home from the hospital. Because their baby was born with meconium aspiration syndrome, she had difficulty breathing, and she and Savannah stayed for several days in the hospital for testing. Shortly after her healthy daughter settled in at home, Savannah was shocked to receive two hospital bills: one for herself, and one for her baby. Together, even with insurance covering part of the cost, they made up over $8,000.
No one at the hospital told Savannah about charity care programs. “I never even thought to ask them for a lesser bill,” she said. She was grateful when they agreed to take payment in monthly installments, but for her single-income family, it was still a burden.
When Savannah’s second daughter, Amelia, was born nine months ago, Savannah was still paying off the bill from her firstborn. She knew she couldn’t afford to stay in the hospital for long. “They kept telling me my insurance would cover it,” she said, “but I knew we’d be charged for every bit of time we were there.” They left the hospital as quickly as they could, but the cost of another hospital birth extended Savannah’s monthly payments even further. “It would have completely wiped out our savings,” she said.
That’s when Savannah discovered Dollar For. Savannah is a customer service agent for a business operations consultancy — a job she took, in part, to help pay off her medical bills — and she spends a lot of time online. Shortly after Amelia was born, Savannah stumbled upon a nurse and patient advocate on TikTok, Christy, who had taken to the platform to share her frustrations about the American health care system. From Christy, Savannah learned about Dollar For. Between caring for a brand-new baby and a two-year-old, she managed to submit her application within a week.
Soon, Savannah heard back from a Dollar For patient advocate, a staff member trained to guide people through the process of applying for medical debt relief. Shortly after, she received a life-changing email from the hospital: with Dollar For’s advocacy, they had reduced her debt by 80%.
“I shouted it from the digital rooftops,” she said, laughing. She called her husband, texted her friends, emailed her mother-in-law, and shared the news on Facebook, where she hoped she could make more people aware of Dollar For’s work. “I get nervous with authority figures,” she said, “and I wanted people to know that organizations like this can be your backbone.”
Now, Savannah feels safer with Dollar For in her corner. Routine medical testing recently left her with a sizable bill, while she and her husband plan for another child — but she knows Dollar For can help. With that support, she plans to save money for her daughters’ college tuition and start a fund to help them buy their first homes. “I tell everybody I know,” she said. “This doesn’t have to cripple your life.”