Editor’s note: T1D Exchange and Dollar For have no formal partnership. We produced this content because Dollar For is a trusted, legitimate resource that may be beneficial to you or your family. 

Dealing with hospital debt? Dollar For is a nonprofit that helps individuals and families reduce (or eliminate) hospital bills. Start with the screening application here. 

Whether it was a carefully planned surgery, a life-saving trip to the emergency room, or the birth of a child, the hospital bills that follow can be overwhelming — whether it’s $1,000, $15,000, or more. While it might feel like the only option is to spend the next several years or decades of your life making payments toward that debt, there are resources that can help. 

Dollar For is one of those resources. Their goal is simple: help you understand and apply to programs that significantly reduce your hospital bills — and they’ve “crushed” more than 30 million dollars in medical bills so far. 

Here’s a closer look at Dollar For and whether it might help you and your family. 

What does Dollar For do?  

“Dollar For is a national nonprofit that crushes medical bills,” explains Jared Walker, founder, and CEO, “by helping patients access charity care. We empower patients and advocate on their behalf.” 

Walker founded Dollar For in 2012 after experiencing significant medical debt firsthand. 

“Charity care” is also commonly referred to as patient assistance programs or bill forgiveness for hospital-related bills. The potential impact of applying to receive charity care advocacy from Dollar For can dramatically reduce or eliminate hospital bills. 

Most hospitals offer their own charity care to help patients manage big hospital bills, but these programs can be cumbersome, tedious, and simply unknown to many patients at the hospital. 

When you apply to Dollar For, they take the information in your application and work through that hospital’s charity care system for you. 

“Each hospital runs its own charity care program,” explains Walker. “Each decides how patients must apply and who qualifies. Hospitals typically consider the patient’s income, the number of people in the household, and the bill’s age when deciding who qualifies.” 

But the qualifications to receive help through Dollar For are likely more inclusive than you think. 

Sounds too good to be true? Real patient stories… 

While it may seem hard to believe, there’s nothing tricky about it. Dollar For’s entire function is actually very simple: they’re helping people with hospital debt understand the charity care system that already exists. Then they advocate for you throughout that entire process, with the goal of dramatically reducing or eliminating your hospital debt. 

Here are a handful of patient stories shared on their site: 

  • Jarret James and his wife had already been paying weekly bills for treatments for prostate cancer. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, he received a $106,000 hospital bill after surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. “There’s just no way,” Jarrett recalled thinking, that he and his wife could pay “a six-figure bill, and the other, subsequent bills on top of it. Those are just going to be out of our reach.” Even the hospital’s “partial medical bill forgiveness” program would still leave them making payments for years. When James sought the help of Dollar For, he was in disbelief when the entire $106,000 bill was settled and cleared.  
  • “I saw a doctor in the hospital for less than five minutes and got a bill for $1000 from a company I never heard of,” explains Michelle Patti, a graduate student who accrued nearly $11,000 in hospital debt. “I had a five-minute consultation for a test I needed and was charged another $400 just for the consultation!” After applying for support from Dollar For, over 80% of Michelle’s hospital debt was forgiven.  
  • Janis Hammons feared that paying the bill for her critical but relatively straightforward carpal tunnel surgery would take years. “I was shocked,” said Hammons of the $3,320 bill. “I had insurance, so I was really shocked that my bill was so high. I could only do a payment plan of $60 a month — I thought, that’s going to take me forever to pay, at $60 a month.” She applied to Dollar For, which helped her get the entire bill paid for through charity care. 
  • Even a quick trip to the emergency room can result in frustrating debt. A man named Steve Anderson went to the ER for only one hour with excruciating pain from kidney stones. He received a bill of $1,015 nearly a year later. “It’s easy to feel alone when you can’t pay your medical bills. I wasn’t expecting to get a bill for over $1000 a year later. I don’t mind paying for their time, but $1015 for an hour?” Dollar For helped Steve get the bill reduced to $115. 
  • Gail Hansen already works three jobs, but she never anticipated the debt that would come from treatment for breast cancer. When she saw the $4,000 bill, a friend told her about Dollar For, but she was skeptical and exhausted. “It sounds wonderful, but the way my luck’s been going … I’m tired of trying to get help when I can’t get anyone to help.  Fortunately, she pursued the application process — and Dollar For helped her eliminate the hospital debt. “I’m in a healing mode right now,” she adds. “I think once I can put my feet back on the ground, I’ll be OK. At least I’m not in pain, and my hospital bill is gone.” 

Who qualifies? 

“On average, a family of four earning $100,000 will qualify,” says Walker. 

Here’s a closer look at the general qualifications — but Dollar For encourages you to apply regardless because many variables can affect qualifications, and every hospital is different.  

  • 1 person with a total household income of $49,000 annually 
  • 2 people with a total household income of $65,000 annually 
  • 3 people with a total household income of $83,000 annually 
  • 4 people with a total household income of $100,000 annually 

Other variables that play a role in your ability to receive charity care or bill forgiveness include:

  • If you have health insurance 
  • Where you live 
  • The size of the bill 

Dollar For reminds us that applying for charity care must generally occur within 240 days (about eight months) of receiving the bill. Some hospitals will consider applications beyond 240 days, but it depends on the hospital. 

What if you already paid the bill? 

If you qualify for charity care, Dollar For can actually help you get a refund. 

What about other types of medical debt? 

Dollar For’s services and advocacy only apply to hospital bills. This means it would not apply to bills related to diabetes technology (insulin pumps, CGMs, etc.) or medications (insulin, GLP-1s, etc.) 

Whether you’ve got a little or a lot of hospital debt, it’s worth checking out.