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How can I strengthen my case for medical financial aid?
August 8, 2012 9:51 AM   Subscribe

How can I strengthen my case for medical financial aid? (Long snowflake story within.)

I'm female, living in California, and 23 years old.

I have $1000+ in medical bills from as early as September 2011, all past due. I have health insurance through my mom thanks to Obamacare, but I'm 23 and financially independent. I called the medical foundation in May to ask for financial aid.

I sent in what they asked for: last year's tax return, most recent pay stubs, most recent bank statements, and their one-page financial application. It doesn't ask for how much I pay for rent/utilities/student loans... it just asks for how much I make, which is currently about $10/hr. Last year I had a much better job, making $16+/hr, and the tax return reflects that.

Anyway, I sent it all in, and after several months and several more requests for documents like statements from my savings account, I was denied financial aid. The reason on the letter I received was "Income exceeds guidelines."

I called the medical foundation's customer service again. (The department/office that handles financial aid has no phone number listed, and the customer service office has no way of getting in contact with them. Believe me, I've tried.) I asked what these "guidelines" were, and was told that the cutoff for giving financial aid was if I made more than $21,000/yr. Which I don't, currently. I explained to her that I was making much better money last year, but right now I definitely don't make more than $21k. She was sympathetic and said that she noticed that my mom is still listed as the guarantor on my account. I asked her to change it so that I'm listed as my own guarantor, which she did. She then sent me another financial aid application so I could re-apply.

So what should I do differently this time around? I already plan on including a cover letter explaining everything that seems to have been misunderstood last time, including the fact that I'm financially responsible for myself.

Thanks for your help.
posted by wintersonata9 to Work & Money (4 answers total)
 
Sometimes bureaucracy doesn't bend. The cover letter may not cut it - you may need to wait until next Spring once you've filed your 2012 tax returns showing your lower income. Of course that means running the risk of (further) ruining your credit as the unpaid bills continue to pile up.

One option may be to file quarterly taxes (not sure if just anyone can do this though). Then you could send in your most recent quarterly return showing your income as being under the $5250 mark ($21000 / 4).

Also - have you applied directly for partial or total forgiveness from the medical providers, based on financial hardship? It sounds like your mom's insurance covered some of the costs already, so this wouldn't be a total loss for the providers and it could lower your outstanding debt.
posted by trivia genius at 10:29 AM on August 8, 2012


I don't think filing quarterly taxes is an option, and I hope I can take care of this before next spring.

Also - have you applied directly for partial or total forgiveness from the medical providers, based on financial hardship?

Is that different from what I'm doing now? The first time I spoke to someone at the medical foundation about my bills, she said that if I was approved for this financial aid package, some or all of my bills would be waived.
posted by wintersonata9 at 11:10 AM on August 8, 2012


1. You can include your pay stubs and a letter from your employer to demonstrate this year's income, without waiting to file a tax return.

2. You can provide an affidavit explaining that this is your only source of income, i.e. that you don't have a second job. An affidavit is simply a statement in which you affirm under oath that the contents are true to the best of your knowledge, and which is signed by a notary public. You need the letter to state that "I affirm under oath that the contents are true to the best of my knowledge" to make this work.
posted by Capri at 3:57 PM on August 8, 2012


Of course that means running the risk of (further) ruining your credit as the unpaid bills continue to pile up.

Before you do this, you should ask for a payment plan.
posted by grouse at 4:40 PM on August 8, 2012


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