'Dollar For' medical charity brings attention to Portland-based concept
When Jared Walker encountered a friend struggling under large medical bills proceeding from cancer treatment, he wondered if there were some nonprofit organization that could help. Not finding one locally, he established one – and this former trampoline gym manager is now helming his new nonprofit by himself.
Jared told the Southeast Portland Rotary Club on May 13 that his concept was a simple one: He expected most of those who might give to his charity to be as lacking in spare cash as he was, so he called the nonprofit "Dollar For Portland" – and, after receiving his IRS 501c3 certification, he set up a website on which anyone can sign up to give a "dollar a month" as an automatic donation (it can be more than that, if a donor wants). All money collected is 100% targeted to help pay outside medical bills (a handful of local businesses help pay the overhead, to make this possible). And, he has quite a few donors at this point.
Walker says he can often negotiate these bills downward, as a third-party charity helping with payment – but he has found a much more helpful service he can provide! Although the bill-paying service is limited to the Portland area, he is expanding into Washington State with a service to assist those meeting government qualifications to have the bills cancelled entirely, as "charity care".
He explains that most hospitals are nonprofit organizations, and there is a federal mandate for "charity care" services at such hospitals for those below a government-set income level.
This qualifying level is set much higher than most people would think – in some cases, a family income of over $70,000 per year might qualify – and he has learned what steps must be taken to establish this qualification for hospitals to accept the claim and cancel the bill, and he provides all the needed steps in a single package for those who qualify for it. "We've saved over $700,000 in medical bills for local residents in just the last year," he says.
Whether you qualify for "charity care" or not – and you might – if you are staggering under huge medical bills you may not be able to pay, it would be worth your while to go online to – www.dollarfor.org – and find out more about this charity, which has already been profiled by Time magazine. Time apparently also couldn't find another charity providing relief for those with huge medical bills anywhere in the country.If you want to talk with Jared, his card lists his number as 503/853-6850. You could be in for some hopeful news about your medical bills. And, if you want to join the dollar-a-month crowd, you can do that on the website also.Southeast Portland Rotary, to which Jared was speaking, meets most Mondays in the Community Room on the east side of Moreland Presbyterian Church, at S.E. 19th and Bybee Boulevard in Westmoreland. Visitors are always welcome, and lunch is on the house if you're visiting. The service club is online at – www.SoutheastPortlandRotary.com