Our heart and vision as a church have been shifting and we recently felt called to change the name of our body to City Church. We want to emphasize the importance of impacting people in our community and outside of our church building. The Gospel of Jesus has the power to transform the lives of people in our city, and we long to see that happen. We’ve been wrestling with practical ways that we as a body can transition from an attitude of concern to an attitude of compassion, which requires action. Even though we can’t meet every single need, when we take that leap of faith to serve people outside of our congregation, God always seems to multiply our involvement.
So when this opportunity presented itself, we decided that rather than use elaborate branding or a clever marketing strategy, we would put our money where our mouth was. We saw a need in our community for alleviating medical debt. If we had the opportunity to pay off these medical debts, it would make a statement to our community that our church cares for them and, more importantly, so does the God we serve.
When we looked at our county, there were nearly 1400 individuals with an average debt of just over $1,800. That’s nearly $2.7 Million in total medical debt. 60% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, so we felt like this total must have been hurting our community in a big way. Another thing we considered is that Medical debt is different than other debt. When people incur financial debt, they may have made poor choices with things like credit cards, but no one wakes up and says “I want to go have surgery today.”
We weren’t exactly sure how to help people in our community pay off their medical debt, but pastor at a church in Kansas pointed us in the right direction. He told us to contact RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit based out of New York, that specializes in purchasing medical debt and eliminating it. We asked them to run a report on our county and see if we had enough debt to qualify for the program.
In order to request aid for a particular region, there must be at least $1.5 million in qualifying medical debt. Your organization must agree to partner with RIP to purchase at least that $1.5 million of debt, which would require you to invest $15K out of pocket. RIP Medical Debt is willing to work with multiple organizations. If your church cannot commit to paying that amount, or if you don’t have that amount of debt in your region, you can partner with other organizations or churches to reach the $15K mark. So three separate churches in three different locations could commit to $5K dollars each, and as long as you hit the $15K mark then RIP Medical Debt can still pay off the debt and attribute credit separately to the institutions.
So who qualifies for aid?
- Anyone earning less than 2X the Poverty level.
- Anyone who currently spends 5% or more of their income on medical debt (financial hardship)
- Anyone who has more in debt than in assets (financial insolvency)
The total cost for our church was $26K. This eliminated just over $3 million of medical debt in three counties. Typically, a campaign lasts for 4 months. In order to request aid for specific regions with RIP Medical, you have to have a target of abolishing at least $1.5 million in debt and raising at least $15K. There are instances where multiple churches can combine across multiple regions if you are unable to raise the full amount. They can make the letters specific to regions as far as location and church.
In short, our $26K eliminated just over $3 million of debt in our county and two neighboring counties, eliminating 1,589 individual debt accounts.
For more information on how your church or organization can get started with the process, you can go to
Thank you for your interest. What a great way to share the Gospel! We all had a debt that we could not pay!