Pennsylvania Church Helps Pay Off $1.3 Million in Medical Debt

More than 60 percent of bankruptcies in America have medical debt as a root cause, and the situation is especially dire in western Pennsylvania.

That statement, found on an RIP Medical Debt webpage, sums up what prompted Summit Church in White Township to start a campaign to wipe out such debt — over $1.3 million so far — in 14 western Pennsylvania counties.

“For every dollar donated, they can pay off $100 of medical debt,” Mel Masengale, senior pastor at Summit Church, said Thursday. “The goal was about $12,000,” which could be leveraged to $1.2 million.

RIP Medical Debt is a nonprofit charity, that uses donations to purchase bundled medical debt portfolios that have gone through collection agencies for months or years.

“Medical debt isn’t the result of bad decisions,” according to RIP Medical Debt’s mission statement. “It’s a debt of necessity.”

RIP Medical Debt’s efforts target individuals who make less than two times the federal poverty level; those who have reached a point in their financial hardship where 5 percent or more of their annual income goes to out-of-pocket medical expenses, and those who are insolvent, with debts greater than their assets.

There also are specific programs for veterans and active service members of the U.S. military.

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SOURCE: Indiana Gazette, Pat Cloonan