MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — St. Luke’s Episcopal Church celebrated its 70th birthday in a big way.
The church paid off $8.1 million worth of medical debt. The good deed helped over 6,500 hundred families in 14 counties across Alabama.
St. Luke began a fundraiser in September that lasted 6 weeks. The fundraiser ended on the church’s 70th birthday. Just over $78,000 was raised. You’re probably wondering how the church managed to pay off over $8 million in debt with less than $80,000.
Through a partnership with a non-profit, RIP Medical Debt, the church was able to buy medical debt at a fraction of the cost. About 1% of the cost, to be specific.
“For every one dollar that you donate to RIP, they can forgive about $100 worth of medical debt. That alone got people’s attention because it’s hard to find things that you can have that kind of impact,” said Rev. Cameron Nations.
The co-founder of RIP Medical Debt said the reason they’re able to do this is that collections agencies are almost always unable to collect the full amount that’s due.
“The average amount that a collection agency will collect, no matter when it was placed, let’s say a hospital has a whole lot of people that didn’t pay and they have to place them for collection because they don’t have the people to collect on them. They only collect about 10 to 15 percent,” said Craig Antico.
Antico says his organization is able to buy debt in large batches for less than 5 percent of the total value.
“A lot of times hospitals will have debt that they can’t collect. And oftentimes it is against people that can’t pay it,” said Antico.
RIP Medical Debt has partnered with churches, millionaires, celebrities, and all kinds of organizations to pay off over $1 billion in medical debt.
Rev. Cameron Nations said there was no better message his church could send than, “your debts have been forgiven.”
“We just hope there is some power in knowing someone who you may have never met, never seen, and we may have never met you. But we care about you and we love you. We hope this can maybe give you a second chance or help you get back on your feet,” said Rev. Nations.
If your church or organization would like to partner with RIP Medical Debt, click here to learn more.