Local church works to help erase millions in hospital debt

Earing medical debt for residents

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A local church is working to help erase millions of dollars in medical debt for people across central Alabama.

Leaders at St. Luke’s Episcopal church said they wanted to celebrate the church’s 70th birthday by giving back, so for about 6 weeks they campaigned to raise money. That money is now set to be used to pay off outstanding bills at local hospitals.

“You don’t go into medical debt for a good thing,” said Cameron Nations, Associate Rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

The bills that come after people are discharged from the hospital often hurt even more.

St Luke’s Episcopal Church is working with debt relief agency RIP Medical Debt to help lift the financial load.

“Ultimately the system needs to change and healthcare needs to be more affordable, so that people don’t get in these situations in the first place. This was one way we can help in the meantime,” said Nations.

The church raised over $77,000 through fundraising and donations. For every dollar raised, RIP Medical Debt matches it with an average of $100 and then pays off hospital balances. Church leaders estimate about $7.5 million in debt will be wiped out locally.

But the gift of financial freedom -- priceless.

“We hope this brings hope to families who feel trapped by this debt, who are help back by this debt. We hope this can give them a second chance,” said Nations.

The debt relief will also help people with mounting bills improve their credit score.

Church leaders say RIP Medical Debt is in the process of working with hospitals in the following counties - Jefferson, Shelby, Blount, Cullman, Walker, St. Clair, Talladega, Chilton, Winston, Morgan, Autauga, Clay, Coosa, and Elmore.

They should get official word from the agency and hospitals within the next few days. People who are selected to get their bill paid should find out by the end of December.

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