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The Medical-bill "Negotiation Lab"

24 minutes


It’s often possible to negotiate medical bills. It sounds hard — and it can be — but what if we got it down to a science? Mapped 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. And we got to visit the lab. 


The folks at Dollar For caught our attention — and lots of other people’s—when they went super-viral on TikTok with a 60-second recipe for crushing medical debt by accessing charity care, financial assistance that most US hospitals are legally required to offer. That was early 2021. 


Next, a group of whip-smart volunteers helped Dollar For develop a user-friendly system to help folks apply for that assistance. Dollar For also started holding open trainings on Zoom, teaching people the ins and outs of applying for charity care—and helping others to do so. They say their work to date has helped erase more than $18 million in medical debt. 


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


We listen-in on one of Dollar For’s real-life negotiations with a debt collector and take notes. 



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