Over 43 million Americans under the age of 65 have past-due medical bills. The amount of debt for healthcare-related expenses in the U.S. totals almost $100 billion.
One doctor in Nebraska decided to start thinking outside of the box when dealing with this issue. He offers to eliminate debt for his patients if they agree to pay it forward.
Dr. Demetrio Aguila is a physician at Healing Hands of Nebraska. He saw a recurring problem at the clinic – patients who were unable to afford needed surgeries. About 10% of the people he treats currently qualify for the program.
Volunteer Hours Are Based on Procedure Complexity
Dr. Aguila says that we cannot ignore the people who are in our own backyard. The goal of his volunteering program in lieu of payment is to provide hope to people who have lost it from a medical perspective.
As one of his patients said, there’s nothing more depressing than seeing a bill for $24,000 and wondering how much the insurance will cover. Jeff Jensen had nerve damage in his feet that Dr. Aguila treated. His surgery added up to 560 hours of volunteering, but then over 100 people stepped in to provide help.
Dr. Aguila says that his mission is to inspire others to find creative ways to limit the burden of medical expenses.
Although the program is currently small, with only eight active participants, it makes his work more satisfying. It’s also an idea that is helping his patients and the rest of the community.