‘An arm and a leg’: How to negotiate for lower medical bills

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen.

Negotiating medical bills is often possible. It sounds difficult – and it can be – but what if we got it down to a science? Map out all the moves ahead of time? Jared Walker and his team at the nonprofit Dollar For are running a big experiment to see if they can do just that.

The folks at Dollar For went superviral on TikTok in early 2021 with a 60-second recipe for crushing medical debt by accessing charity care, the financial support that most US hospitals are legally required to offer.

Next, a team of whip-smart volunteers helped Dollar Forge create a user-friendly system to help people apply for that aid. Dollars for Zoom started teaching lessons, teaching people the ins and outs of applying for charity care — and helping others do the same. The group says its work has helped erase more than $18 million in medical debt.

But many people who can’t afford their medical bills don’t qualify for charity care. So Dollar For is trying something new: what they call a “negotiation lab” to play out the best way to negotiate with hospitals and debt collectors.

In this episode, we hear a real-life discussion of Dollar For with a debt collector.

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of KHN and Public Road Productions.

To stay in touch with “An Arm and a Leg”, subscribe to the newsletter. You can also follow the show on Facebook and Twitter. And if you have a story to tell about the health care system, producers would love to hear from you.

To listen to all KHN podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to “An Arm and a Leg” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Related topics

Contact us Submit a story tip

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.