RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — City Church and RIP Medical Debt worked together to abolish more than $3 million in debt for people in Pope, Conway and Johnson counties.
RIP Medical Debt is a non-profit that buys medical debt from collection agencies in order to forgive it.
"Our return on this we eliminated over $3,000,000 with $26,000," Campus Pastor David Howell said.
Howell says he read an article this spring about a church in Kansas that had raised money to eliminate the medical debt for people in its community. He told other church leaders, and after they found out that the process is both feasible and simple, they quickly began planning.
"Medical debt is nothing that we wake up and say you know what I want to go into the hospital tomorrow. And so just truly in a compassionate way, it was a way for us to reach out and bless the community," Howell said.
Howell explained the three qualifying factors for residents to get their medical debt wiped clean.
"The first one, meaning you have to earn less than twice the federal poverty level, the second one is people who are financially insolvent so they had more debt than they did asset, and the third factor I believe is people who were spending more than five percent of their total income on medical debt," Howell said.
Due to patient privacy laws, the church has no idea what residents qualify.
"We have no idea who it is because patient privacy, which makes it more exciting," Howell said.
Each beneficiary will get a yellow envelope in the mail in the next couple weeks from the nonprofit explaining how their medical debt disappeared.