Birmingham Episcopalian church buys and forgives millions of dollars in medical debt
This past holiday season St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham bought $8.1 million in medical debt owed by about 6,500 families across Central Alabama and then forgave it all.
Because many hospitals sell off the debt they are not sure they can collect, St. Lukes was able to purchase the $8.1 million in debt for about $78,000. Many Americans are not so lucky to have a benefactor like St. Lukes in their lives. The most common purchases of overdue medical debt are predatory debt collectors who then use aggressive tactics to turn a profit on their investment in other’s medical expenses.
As first reported by ABC 33/40, the church partnered with the charity RIP Medical Debt, which specializes in buying debt from hospitals with the intent to forgive.
RIP Medical Debt’s website says the charity targets “the portfolios for those in or near the poverty level” as the recipients of medical debt forgiveness.
The generous action comes on the 70th anniversary of Saint Luke’s founding.
“Saint Luke in the Christian tradition didn’t just write one of the four gospels,” St. Lukes Associate Rector Cameron Nations told Over The Mountain Journal.
“There’s been this long association in the Christian faith of Saint Luke with doctors, nurses, any kind of health care and healing in general. So we thought, ‘What better way to celebrate our 70th birthday than doing this fundraiser?’” he continued.
The envelopes telling Central Alabama’s poorest citizens that their debt had been forgiven arrived right around Christmas.
For background on RIP Medical Debt watch:
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.