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Church Pays Off Millions In Medical Debt For Pennies On The Dollar

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The fact that the U.S. government still seems to view healthcare as a privilege rather than a right has resulted in millions of Americans going into serious debt after seeking medical care. The Point, a church located in Seymour, Indiana, has tried to help alleviate a small fraction of that burden by teaming up with New York-based nonprofit to pay off $7.1 million of that debt.

The point worked with RIP Medical Debt to wipe out the personal medical debt of residents in Jackson, Jennings, and Bartholomew counties. The affected residents will begin receiving letters over the coming months making them aware of the fact that the money they owed has been cleared, something that will likely be welcome news to those who were crippled by the high cost of healthcare.

According to local paper The Tribune, RIP Medical Debt “works with third-party credit data providers to search and bundle debt portfolios. Once the organization locates accounts meeting criteria for financial relief, it negotiates to buy portfolios at a steep discount.”

Eligible accounts are ones that have been in collections for many months or even years without being paid. The nonprofit purchases these portfolios for roughly a penny on the dollar, clearing more than $715 million in American debt since 2014.

Church staff Steve Greene and Jeff Lewellyn had heard about RIP Medical Debt’s previous work and wanted to see if they might help members of their own community, so they reached out to see if they might be able to work together.

“The bottom line is that people have known for years what the church is against. We wanted to communicate what we’re for. This series was all about being for our community,” Greene said.

“We feel like by showing someone we’re for them, it’s a shorter step to show them God’s for them. We felt like that this was a tangible way to do that.”

The church set a goal of raising $17,000, which would erase $1.7 million in medical debt held by Seymour residents. Any amount raised in excess would go to surrounding counties, which is exactly what ended u happening when The Point’s donations totaled a whopping $52,252 by early October.

“It just snowballed. We knew that going in, it would require $27,000 to do (Jackson) county as a whole,” Greene said. “We’ve expanded that and taken on Jennings County and are a third of the way into Bartholomew.”

Greene hopes they’ll be able to raise enough money to clear the medical debt of 3,950 people by Thanksgiving, and they seem well on their way to achieving this goal.

As Greene explained, “I think it’s a greatly humanitarian, loving, kind and gracious thing. I don’t think I was prepared with how this struck a chord with people. I heard from people of all ages and stages of life. I love that it has really impacted people. I feel like it has really touched their hearts.”

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