Local churches are stepping up to help cancel medical debt


MORGANTON, NC (WBTV) – With the crippling medical bills afflicting so many in our area, two local churches are teaming up with a national charity to cancel medical bills. They are raising money that will provide relief to many families across the United States.

To do this, they use the same model that collection agencies use, but instead of demanding the money be returned, they forgive it.

The churches hope to raise nearly twenty thousand dollars. It won’t have much of an impact on debt relief, but how they use the money is key.

“We realized what a concern that was,” said Paul Carlson.

It’s a problem that can plunge a family into a hole they can’t dig out of.

“It’s the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country. It’s something that’s growing exponentially every year,” emphasized Pastor Marshall Jolly.

And a topic that not many people are ready for.

“Nearly half of Americans didn’t have $400 for medical expenses,” according to RIP Medical.

A surprise medical bill can happen at any time and take the person to whom it is issued by surprise. Failure to pay can mean late payment calls, damage to your credit score, and even lawsuits. But now, in this time of giving, two churches in Morganton are stepping up to help.

“It was a great blessing to be a part of it,” the pastor told WBTV’s Ron Lee.

Paul Carlson is a pastor at Calgary Lutheran. His community has helped raise about ten grand for medical debt forgiveness. But they can turn that into over a million dollars.

“Rather than cash in on it, RIP Medical just forgives it. And it’s a beautiful thing.”

Here’s how it works: When someone can’t pay their medical bills, that debt is sold for pennies on the dollar, usually to a collection agency. If they cannot pick it up, it will be sold back to another agency. What RIP Medical is doing is buying the debt at this point and using funds raised by charities to be able to forgive the debt.

“We’re buying the debt in these big bundled portfolios for a fraction of their face value. And that means one dollar raised by a nonprofit can eliminate a hundred dollars in medical debt. said Daniel Lampert of RIP Medical.

Marshall Jolly of Grace Episcopal Church, who is also involved in the fundraising effort, says at this time of giving, help is needed more than ever.

“It makes us feel like we’re practicing what we preach.”

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