Imagine having all your medical debt paid off, out of the blue. Now imagine a church paying off $46.5 million in said debt for over 45,000 families. That's pretty much the story as Crossroads Church in Cincinnati works with RIP Medical Debt to eliminate debts for residents of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, Fox 4 News reports. "I want to give us an opportunity to multiply our impact," senior pastor Brian Tome said in a Nov. 23 sermon as he went public with the plan. "They'll get a letter that says, 'Congratulations, your debt has been paid because someone loves you and there is a God that has not forgotten about you.'" Tome explained that every dollar raised by the congregation would translate into $100 in medical debt wiped off the boards, per Cincinnati.com.
RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit in New York state, plays a huge role by buying debt portfolios for a slim percentage of their initial value. That's possible because unpaid bills are often put together and sold to bill collectors for pennies on the dollar—but RIP Medical Debt forgives the debt instead of collecting it. Eligible debtors have to be making less than twice the federal poverty level (roughly $25,000 per year for one person or $52,000 for a small family), have higher debts than assets, and debts amounting to 5% or more of their yearly income. The lucky debtors are expected to receive the good news this week in bright yellow envelopes. Meanwhile, as USA Today reported last year, the US spends more on public health care than any country in the world. (Read more health care stories.)