US Doctor eliminates medical bill dept by allowing patients to pay it forward

Dr. Demetrio Aguila, owner of Healing Hands in Nebraska.
Dr. Demetrio Aguila, owner of Healing Hands in Nebraska. Photo credit: Healing Hands of Nebraska

A US surgeon is letting some patients pay off their healthcare bills through volunteer work.

Dr Demetrio Aguila, the owner of clinic Healing Hands in Nebraska, founded a program allowing people who can't afford to pay for surgery the option of paying by donating hours of community service. 

Aguila began his medical career in the Air Force where he served for 22 years. The humanitarian work he did then made him recognise he could make a similar impact closer to home. 

The nerve specialist said he was seeing a recurring problem of patients who couldn't afford surgery, CBS reported.

"We can't ignore the people in our own back yard," Aguila told CBS. 

"We want to be able to offer hope to people who have lost hope medically." 

The pay-it-forward program has now been running for six months and according to CBS News, eight people are currently enrolled. 

He calculates the number of hours a patient is to give local charitable groups based on the type of surgery. 

For example, for surgery with an insurance charge of $5000, the patient would need to donate 250 hours of community service to pay for their surgery.

If the patient can't physically offer their own time, he allows others to help the patient with earning their hours. 

According to Healing Hands Nebraska, in the US alone, over 60 percent of an individual's bankruptcy is due to medical bills