By The Dallas Morning News
Any Texan who has spent time in a hospital for a medical procedure knows the bills can skyrocket. Those who suffer the misfortune of a chronic ailment may owe hundreds of thousands of dollars.
No wonder that health problems can send families to the brink of financial ruin. Experts say medical debt contributes to 60 percent of all bankruptcies in this country.
That’s why we were so inspired by news that Covenant Church in Carrollton recently made a $100,000 donation to the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, which resulted in wiping out $10 million in medical debt for more than 4,000 Dallas-area families, including some veterans.
Here’s how the math works: For every dollar donated by Covenant, the nonprofit knocked off $100. The RIP group, whose mission is to erase America’s medical debt, is funded through donations nationwide.
Good on pastor Stephen Hayes for discovering this partnership opportunity. A handful of others in North Texas, including KXAS-TV (NBC5), have donated to the RIP Medical Debt effort.
Maybe these good folks are onto something transformative that should be replicated throughout the state.
Here’s how it works:
When hospitals and doctors can’t collect payment on medical bills, they sell the debt to collection agencies for a fraction of what is owed — generally pennies on the dollar. The consumer, meanwhile, falls further into the financial hole as big bills keep getting bigger.
RIP steps in to give the providers another option, buying the debt in bundles and making good on what’s owed. At that point, struggling families are sent word that they’re free and clear.
What a relief.
Of course, there’s no substitute for bringing health care costs down in this country. We’ve urged Washington to put politics aside and come up with fixes that will allow Americans to afford the care they need.
The sobering reality, according to national studies, is that more than 60 million people struggle to pay their medical bills. Advocates say that a quarter of all Americans — and that includes those with insurance — report that health care expenses have taken a serious toll on their family finances.
A debt relief nonprofit like RIP isn’t a global solution to all that ails this system, but no doubt the assistance it does provide chips away at the overall problem.
We encourage other local organizations looking for a place to put their charitable dollars to take a look at what RIP Medical Debt is doing to help their neighbors.