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'An Arm and a Leg': Viral TikTok Video Serves Up Recipe to 'Crush' Medical Debt

Analysis  |  By Kaiser Health News  
   February 15, 2021

Internal Revenue Service filings from thousands of nonprofit hospitals show they sent $2.7 billion in bills over a year to patients who probably qualified for free or discounted care.

This article was published on Monday, February 15, 2021 in Kaiser Health News.

By Dan Weissmann

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Jared Walker, who runs a nonprofit that helps people pay medical bills, posted a TikTok video explaining the recipe to “crush” hospital bills via charity care policies.

“What that means is that if you make under a certain amount of money, the hospital legally has to forgive your medical bills,” Walker said in the video.

The video has been viewed more than 10 million times. Walker’s organization, Dollar For, had already helped wipe out millions in medical bills before he posted that video.

Internal Revenue Service filings from thousands of nonprofit hospitals show they sent $2.7 billion in bills over a year to patients who probably qualified for free or discounted care.

That number is more likely a floor than a ceiling, experts said.

The strategy Walker espouses won’t work for all bills, but it could help address some of those billions — and is a good place to start.

Here’s a transcript of this episode.

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Photo credit: Stone, Staffordshire / UK - October 27, 2019: TikTok app logo on the smartphone screen and US dollar bills next to it. Top down view. Conceptual photo. / Editorial credit: Ascannio / Shutterstock.com


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