medical debt tiktok

DollarFor/TikTok

Viral TikTok explains how to get your medical bills canceled if you earn less than $37,470

Nonprofit Dollar For takes its messaging to TikTok... and blows up.

Jan 18, 2021, 4:54 pm

Internet Culture

 

Siobhan Ball

Medical debt is one of the chief causes of bankruptcy in the United States but, as one TikToker explains, it doesn’t have to be. If you earn under $37,470, most hospitals are required to cancel your debt outright so long as you contact them in the appropriate way.

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https://twitter.com/DareBear1226/status/1350511629977452547
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Jumping off the "What's a piece of information you learned that feels illegal to know?" trend, TikToker Jared Walker, who runs nonprofit Dollar For that deals with people experiencing medical debt, explains that due to the majority of hospitals maintaining a nonprofit status they have to have financial assistance or Charity Care policies.

The original clip has more than 1 million views since being uploaded over the weekend.

Never forget this information! I literally did this with my $18,000 appendicitis surgery bill when I was working for significantly less than that amount annually. After being approved I only had to pay for some oddball things.
@OlahResidence
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I work with physician billing and even if the bill is through us and not the facility if you keep the approval letter that can be covered or knocked down a lot, also never toss anything. I've had bills from 2013 hit credit This month, save EVERYTHING
@succubeanie
I had a bill for like $350 for getting my blood drawn, all I had to do was send them my last paystub that showed what I make and they waived it. Didn’t have to pay shittt 😎
@succubeanie

What this means is that the hospital is legally required to forgive your entire bill if you're earning up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Line, currently $37,470. Those earning more but also experiencing medical debt can also get a percentage of their bills canceled out as well, proportional to the amount they're earning over that threshold.

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I make a little too much for 100% forgiveness, but I got a $7k bill knocked down to $500ish. From there, I was able to make a payment arrangement to pay it off over a year at $43/month. Game-changing.
@Sweet_Saffron
I came and found this tweet after seeing it on Reddit to tell you that this compelled me to look up assistance for the Duke hospital where I just had foot surgery. It won’t be fully paid off, but this could save me $3,000. You’re awesome for sharing this. Also  @Dollarfor_
@Sweet_Saffron
It’s true. When I had my stroke, a lady came in the next day and signed me up to forgive about 99% of my bill and signed me up for Medicaid on the spot. They also signed me up for free EXPENSIVE pills from a company but I only got to keep that for about a year.
@4TheLoveOfJoose
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Despite the legal requirement to forgive the debts of those earning under a certain amount, many hospitals will not do this automatically. While some will apparently screen patients prior to treatment for eligibility many will only grant this debt forgiveness if it's approached through the proper channels. Channels that are often complicated and confusing for patients... especially as the vast majority of people seem totally unaware that this is an option, and many hospitals aren't doing much to make their patients aware of it.

We're so conditioned not to ask for help. I had some crazy hospital bills when my kids got sick out of state. I was complaining and one of my coworkers said, "call them and ask for financial assistance." 15 min. phone call later, thousands of $ of bills were gone.
@mothysense
the fact that this is kept a secret (or not advertised) is literally so despicable wtffffff
@mothysense
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I did not learn this until I worked as a debt collector for a hospital. We weren't supposed to tell ppl about it unless they specifically asked about financial aid but I literally told everyone I called Loudly crying face cuz why tf are we keeping it a secret??
@DatTallGyal
Good on you. One time I was scheduling a surgery and asking about the final bill. Suddenly in a hushed tone the woman gave me a specific name and extension of the department that can help me with financial assistance. I was grateful but then like why are we whispering??
@DatTallGyal
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Walker founded Dollar For after his family experienced several medical emergencies in order to make the process faster and more accessible for Americans in need, and now he's brought it to TikTok to try and spread the word.

Strangely his first videos addressing the topic were removed from TikTok with no explanation, though they've since been restored to the site along with follow-up videos answering people's questions on navigating the finer details of the process, including what to do if your bills have already been moved to collections.

People have also been sharing their success stories, including a woman who was able to get all of her bills from giving birth in August wiped away. Childbirth can cost into the tens of thousands in the U.S., even an uncomplicated delivery with insurance.

The website, linked in the TikTok's bio, has more information on the process available plus a household calculator for quickly working out how much debt you're eligible to have written off, as well as access to more specialized help and services provided by the nonprofit.

Walker has been contacted for comment and this article will update if he responds.

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*First Published: Jan 18, 2021, 4:54 pm