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Jesse Jones explains how you can get financial assistance with medical debt

Jesse Jones is committed to taking on the cause of medical debt.

First, KIRO 7 spent $12,000 dollars to buy and forgive one million dollars of medical debt in Western Washington.  Then, you chipped in, donating more than $38,000 dollars.  Together, we purchased more than $4 million dollars worth medical debt  — and have forgiven it all.  Now, we want to show you the next step in empowering people to get rid of their own debt.

Hospitals in Washington have spent more than $180 million dollars last year on Charity Care and financial assistance.  But if you believe you don’t qualify for it, you should think again.

Shaliese Taylor was deep in medical debt.  Taylor said she owed thousands of dollars after the birth of her child.  The mother of three said it was all caused by a mix up with the Department of Social and Health Services.

“I started getting little bills in the mail,” Taylor explained.  “Then I would call and I’m like ‘hey I have medical coupons,’ and they would say ‘you’re covered, you’re probably covered so just disregard the notice.”

Years later, collection agencies came looking for Taylor.

“When I got the notice in the beginning, my stomach dropped,” Taylor said.

Taylor lost 25 percent of her paycheck through garnishment.

“I couldn’t pay for everything,” Taylor said.  “There were times I would pray my kids didn’t grow out of their shoes or grow out of their clothes because I can’t buy it. I’m barely being able to pay for rent.”

But what Taylor didn’t know was that she qualified for Charity Care at the time of her visit.

“Charity Care covers people who are insured and possibly underinsured and get a bill or a copay or a deductible they can’t pay, but also people who are uninsured,” Julia Kellison explained.

Taylor met with Julia Kellison with the Northwest Justice Project who said anyone at any time can apply for Charity Care.

When you do, you can make the threatening collection calls from collectors stop.

“You have a right to tell that debt collector to suspend collections to let you apply for Charity Care to address some or all of that bill,” Kellison explained.

Kellison said, in her experience, that suspension is usually around 30 days.  Hospitals have 14 days to make a determination on qualification.

“Before you are sued, if you’re sued, you can suspend that lawsuit and ask to apply for Charity Care,” Kellison said.  “Hospitals are supposed to entertain Charity Care applications at any time, even after judgement.  It never hurts to apply.”

Cassie Sauer is the CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association.  Sauer said some hospitals offer Charity Care or financial assistance to patients whose incomes are at 400 percent of the poverty level.

“The deductibles have risen at a really remarkable rate and many people don’t have the savings to cover the deductible,” Sauer explained.  “Those folks are also eligible for Charity Care.  Many of them don’t think they are.”

Shaliese Taylor applied for Charity Care after she had been garnished.   After getting approved and working with Julia Kellison, Taylor got a big refund.

“{Debt collectors} ended up owing me $2400 dollars,” Taylor said.  “I was so excited.”

Bottom line: Know your rights and ask for help.

Here’s an example: If you earn a yearly salary that’s 300% or three times the federal poverty level for a family of four, which is $75,300 dollars, you would qualify for financial assistance at several hospitals in our region.

Each hospital has a different levels of discounts set on a sliding scale.  For more on how you can apply for Charity Care and more information about the Northwest Justice Project, click here.

Charity Care Links:


UW Hospitals:



Chi-Franciscan Hospitals:


Virginia Mason:


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