Have you ever had a medical bill you couldn’t pay?
If so, you’re not alone. Currently, one out of three Americans can’t pay their medical bills. These individuals are facing wage garnishment, property liens, and bankruptcy. Imagine adding that to the regular stressors of your daily life. Knowing that you could be be financially limited for years, potentially, because you or a family member needed healthcare that turned out to be very, very expensive.
It’s no secret that medical debt is a costly, crushing problem. With many factors contributing to the rising costs of healthcare, hundreds of millions of individuals and families across the country are bearing that growing burden. Studies say that two-thirds of all bankruptcies in the US originate from medical debt, and 25% of all credit card debt is associated to medical bills. (1)
Healthcare now accounts for roughly 18% of the US GDP, and is projected to reach 20% in a few years. That would mean that 20 cents of every dollar would be paying for healthcare in some way. (2)
Gratefully, there are people and organizations stepping up and stepping in to help.
Rita Krenz is a flight paramedic who struggled with knowing her patients would be buried in debt after being life flighted to a hospital. Ultimately, she decided to do something to provide care to the patients in a way that extended beyond the helicopter and hospital walls. (1)
She decided to start a fundraising campaign to raise money for RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that eliminates medical debt by purchasing it for pennies on the dollar from collection agencies. For every $100 donated, RIP is able to eliminate $10,000 of medical debt. This nonprofit focuses its efforts on those who earn less than twice the federal poverty level, those whose medical expenses amount to more than 5% of their total income, and those who are facing bankruptcy. (1)
Rita went on to raise and donate $18,000 dollars, which has allowed RIP Medical Debt to pay off more than $1,200,000 dollars in overdue medical bills, relieving 900 people and counting from debt. And Rita isn’t the only one doing this. (1)
In Michigan, a nursing association was able to pay off $1,000,000 dollars in medical debt by raising $10,000 dollars. A Ohio church was able to pay off $46.5 million dollars in medical debt. And another nurses association in Minnesota was able to pay off $2.6 million dollars. (1)
It can be easy to lose sight of the impact of those large numbers. But every relieved debt transforms the lives of individuals and families, and their communities. The Peter family in Tennessee is one such recipient of the efforts of RIP Medical Debt. (3)
After the premature birth of their twins and an expensive NICU stay, the Peter family had up to $600,000 in medical debt. For five years they struggled to pay off as much as they could. However, the debt was so astronomical that they believed they would still be paying it off until their twins had children of their own. (3)
But one day, the Peter family received a letter from RIP Medical Debt informing them that their debt had been completely relieved. They could hardly believe it. After years of medical bills and the psychological strain and stress of not being able to afford them all, the Peter family was free. (3)
This same story has been repeated for more than 3,001,525 individuals and families across the country. Since 2014, RIP Medical Debt has paid off $5,320,438,726 dollars in medical debt, and they’re not stopping. Their efforts are heroic, and their impact is life-changing. (1)
The cost of healthcare can take more than money from patients, it can take everything. But it doesn’t have to, especially when there are people and organizations like RIP Medical Debt and those who contribute to their mission.
So if you’re looking for a charity to support this holiday season, we encourage you to consider RIP Medical Debt and their mission to “be a source of justice in an unjust healthcare finance system, and a moral force for systemic change.” (1)