The cost of even just a short hospital stay is so high in the U.S. that many patients are afraid to see the bill, afraid of the crippling debt that many end up in. But thanks to a charity and a Brooklyn church, thousands of people in the tri-state don't have to worry about their medical debt anymore.
The congregants at the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood decided to come together and donate $35,000 to RIP Medical Debt, a charity in Rye, New York, that purchases debt from creditors and hospitals for pennies on the dollar. That money turned into the erasure of about $4 million worth of medical debt.
RIP Medical Debt then sends out yellow envelops, informing thousands in Brooklyn and Newark, New Jersey, that their medical debt has disappeared.
Pastor Gary V. Simpson says there was so much joy when he announced the news to the congregants on Sunday. "We could all use some good news from the things we’re going through right now," he said.
Craig Antico, a former debt collections executive, founded RIP Medical Debt in the hope of giving struggling families a fresh start.
"It’s a surprise because it’s a random act of kindness. People can’t apply for this kind of help," Antico said.
RIP Medical Debt acquires large portfolios of debt to help thousands of people at once and if you get a yellow envelope, it's your lucky day. The charity is now working with other donors on a new mission: helping frontline workers. It plans to relieve $45 million worth of their debt next.
Antico says he recently received an email from a nurse who said, "you can’t believe how important this was for me...I’m just going in to help patients for COVID and this just takes one thing off my mind.”