Dollar For: Advocating for Patients to Eliminate Medical Debt

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February 23, 2023

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis County. 

Dollar For: Advocating for Patients to Eliminate Medical Debt

February 22, 2023 Podcast:

Audio file

Moderators Shannon Jones and Jacki Hecht interviewed Scott Spivey-Provencio, a Community Organizer for Dollar For. He is also in his third-year of medical school at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School with plans to become a primary care physician for underserved communities.

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, healthcare costs are the number one cause of bankruptcy for American Families:

  • 40% of Americans fear they won’t be able to afford health care in the upcoming year.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 Texans in Neighborhoods of Color Have Medical Debt.
  • 17% of adults with health care debt declared bankruptcy or lost their home because of it.
  • The average age of a person filing for medical bankruptcy is 45 years old.

There are several ways that someone could accumulate medical debt such as hospitalizations, ambulance costs, not being able to afford medications, and bills from individual doctor’s offices. Medical debt is more prevalent in communities of color, states that have not expanded Medicaid, individuals with disabilities, and states in the South. Medical debt impacts these communities more because the rates of medical debt correlate closely with being uninsured.

Scott Spivey-Provencio shares that Dollar For is a national non-profit 501c3 organization that began in Portland, Oregon. Jared, the founder of Dollar For, experienced medical debt himself and began looking for a solution. He then discovered hospital financial assistance or “hospital charity care,” which is not well-known. Dollar For strives to make hospital charity care “known, easy, and fair.” Charity care is a federal mandate from the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which requires non-profit hospitals to offer “charity care” programs that reduce or eliminate bills for patients whose income is below a certain level. However, hospitals don’t advertise this and often won’t let you know. Unless you ask.

Within the past two to three years, Dollar For has helped individuals with about 23 million dollars’ worth of medical bills. Since August 2022, Dollar For has covered approximately $300,000 of medical bills in the Austin area. Dollar For wants to empower and support individuals through this difficult process, so that they can focus on healing, rather than worrying about how to pay for their hospital bills. If you or someone you know is experiencing medical debt, visit Dollar For Austin to fill out the application to see if you qualify. Dollar For aims to spread the word and expand their program to alleviate the stress of medical debt throughout Austin/Travis County and the nation. According to Dollar For, “a medical crisis should not mean a financial crisis.”

Resources on Medical Debit and Where to Get Help

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