Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones: Millions of Washingtonians could qualify to have hospital bills waived, full or in part

Back surgery provided a costly cut to James Morvel of Gig Harbor’s finances. After the procedure he carried $20,000 in medical debt.

“I had a surgery back, a year and a half ago or a year ago. It ended up being kind of expensive, even though I did have insurance and the insurance didn’t pay, you know, quite a bit of money,” Morvel said.

James was one of 14 million people in America with $1000 or more in outstanding medical debt. Then he heard about a company called Dollar For, a nonprofit based in Vancouver, Washington helping patients erase medical debt.

James Morvel says it was unbelievable what Dollar For was able to do for him. “I suppose it’s just like, you know, kind of winning the lottery, so to speak. You know, one day you have a huge medical bill, and then the next day it’s gone.”

Jared Walker founded Dollar For, the company that helped James eliminate all of his medical debt.

We help patients through the hospital charity care process. And we have received over $47 million of medical debt for people. ‘Charity care’ is free or reduced care for people that make within a certain income range, and a lot of people don’t know about it. But it can be life-changing,” Walker said.

Bob Ferguson, Washington’s Attorney General says charity care doesn’t mean poverty care.

“The law applies to literally millions of Washingtonians and folks should check,” Ferguson said.

You still may qualify for charity care even if you make six figures and have health insurance.

“It’s not just a good thing for Washingtonians to know that this law is in place to help them with assistance on their medical bills. It’s critical because the reality is a law is only as effective as people knowing it exists. Right? And right now, we know too many Washingtonians have no idea of the laws there that can help them with these medical bills,” said Washington’s Attorney General.

While policies vary from hospital to hospital, Dollar For helps patients navigate the process. Users enter their income, medical costs and hospital to find out if they qualify.

James Morvel heard about the company listening to NPR.

The hospitals certainly didn’t tell me. You know, they didn’t tell me anything. So, it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of people might not know but that’s why I try to do my small part,” Morvel said.

Visit to see if you qualify. A few things to keep in mind. Patients have 240 days from the start of treatment to apply. And one of the biggest mistakes is charging your bills to existing credit cards or applying for a medical credit card. Once you do that, you no longer qualify for charity care.

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