MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It is a staggering number. About 45 percent of all bankruptcies in Montgomery County alone are tied to massive medical debts.
But two Montgomery churches and a synagogue are doing their part to help lift the burden from those saddled with the debts.
Kreg Sherbine is a member of First Christian Church Disciples of Christ in east Montgomery, a church connected with the RIP Medical Debt Charity based in the state of New York.
“We are called to care for those in need,” Sherbine said.
And those in need in Montgomery County include about 1,200 people who have had their medical debts either dramatically reduced or forgiven altogether. They represented a combined total of $1.2 million in medical debts.
“In many cases people met their deductible but were unable to pay the rest,” Sherbine said. “You also have those who are uninsured.”
It started 10 years ago with RIP Medical Debt Charity. Two men connected with the debt collection industry apparently had a change of heart and chose a different road.
“Their goal is to buy as much medical debt as they can and forgive it for people least likely to pay it,” said Sherbine.
A decade later, RIP Medical has paid $1 billion worth of medical debts in the country; $3 million dollars statewide, every bit of it from donated funds.
“They buy the debt from debt collection agencies and forgive it,” Sherbine explained, adding he knows the stories of relief followed by joy.
Sherbine remembered one story told to him by someone who had their debts forgiven. The person was overwhelmed and said they had to read it twice to believe it.
A hospital bill reduced or forgiven is good medicine for the heart and soul.
If you’re interested in making a donation or want to learn more about how RIP Medical Debt Charity works, log on to ripmedicaldebt.org
Sherbine says the other church in Montgomery involved is Community Congregational United Church of Christ on South Court Street. And there’s also Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem Synagogue on Cloverdale Road.