Lower-income Americans suffer from medical debt at higher rates: About 6 in 10 adults in households making less than $40,000 carry medical debt, 50% higher than the average across all adults, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. Hospital visits, and specifically unexpected emergencies, are the biggest drivers of that debt.
But many of these families aren’t aware they could get their debt waived or lowered through their hospital’s financial assistance program, also known as charity care. Under federal law, nonprofit hospitals — which comprise 60% of all hospitals in the United States — are required to offer free or discounted care to patients under a certain income threshold.
Under federal law, nonprofit hospitals are required to offer free or discounted care to patients under a certain income threshold.
As part of the partnership, any patient who signs up for Goodbill can first undergo a quick check to see if they qualify for free or discounted care at their hospital. Those who do will get Dollar For’s free help applying for financial assistance. Those who don’t can go through Goodbill’s negotiation process and get their bills reviewed for coding errors and inflated charges.
“We believe that anyone who qualifies for charity care should access it easily and free of charge — end of story,” said Patrick Haig, CEO and co-founder of Goodbill. “Our partnership with Dollar For gives us confidence that we’re providing each patient with the best possible option for lowering their bill, based on their circumstances.”
In a pilot test leading up to the official announcement of the partnership, Goodbill and Dollar For successfully eliminated nearly $300,000 in hospital debt through financial assistance claims.
“A medical crisis shouldn’t mean a financial crisis. Dollar For works hard to get people approved for charity care, but there are times when they just won’t qualify,” said Jared Walker, CEO and co-founder of Dollar For. “We are thrilled to work with Goodbill to give them another option to reduce that bill.”
"A medical crisis shouldn't mean a financial crisis," said Jared Walker, CEO and co-founder of Dollar For.
While there’s no authoritative data on how many Americans qualify for financial assistance, depending on the state and hospital, the qualification criteria is generally between 200% and 400% of federal poverty guidelines. In most states, that amounts to $120,000 for a family of four. In return for offering that aid, nonprofit hospitals get tax breaks from the government amounting to an estimated $60 billion a year.
However, nonprofit hospitals have increasingly come under scrutiny for pocketing these federal tax breaks while failing to pre-qualify patients, and even hounding patients who were eligible for free care to pay first.
Walker has been on a mission to educate and help patients apply for charity care ever since he posted a Tiktok video about the topic in 2021 that went viral and racked up millions of views.
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