Over the past two years, several churches across the United States have used donations made to their church to pay off medical debt for thousands of families.
A church in Columbia, Missouri teamed up with non-profit organization RIP Medical Debt last month. Together The Crossing Church and RIP Medical debt paid off more than $43 million of medical debt. The Crossing was able to raise more than $430,000 through donations from members of the church.
Churches in several other states have also partnered with RIP Medical Debt to help pay off past-due medical debt for local residents. Pathway Church in Wichita, Kansas, spent $22,000 of their budget to eliminate $2.2 million in medical debt. Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in Champaign, Illinois, used $15,000 of surplus money from a building renovation project to eliminate $4 million of debt for more than 3,000 families. Revolution Annapolis church in Maryland raised $15,000 to erase $1.9 million in medical debt for nearly one thousand families last year. And City Church in Evansville, Indiana, raised $15,000 and wiped out $4 million in debt.
Most recently in Texas, Lake Pointe Church paid off over $2.5 million in medical debt as part of their “Pay it Forward” campaign. The campaign encourages community members to commit acts of kindness in celebration of the church’s 40th anniversary.
In Indiana, after one church announced that they would pay off $2 million in medical debt for 2,500 families, other churches in the state wanted to help too. This led to The Northview Church in Carmel, Indiana, to eliminate over $40,000 in unpaid medical bills.
RIP Medical Debt focuses its efforts on paying off medical debt for anyone making less than twice the poverty rate. The organization is able to negotiate medical debt with collection companies, resulting in paying pennies on the dollar instead of the full amount to settle the debt.
Individuals who were fortunate enough to have their medical debt paid off received a letter in the mail detailing that RIP Medical Debt and the church involved paid off their debt. Most of the families that were involved were not connected to the church in any way. There are no applications necessary to qualify instead, RIP Medical debt finds eligible recipients through collection agencies. The debt is paid off forever with no strings attached.
According to federal statistics, nearly half of all debt collection in the United States is the result of unpaid medical expenses. A study last year published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that more than 60% of bankruptcies in the United States are attributed to medical debt. Collectively, the country owes at least $81 billion in past-due medical bills.