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Ingham County allocates $250K to eradicate medical debt for over 20,000 residents

Ingham County is pledging to pay down medical debt for more than 20,000 residents. In early March, the county’s board of commissioners allocated $250,000 from the general fund to the nonprofit organization RIP Medical Debt.

RIP Medical Debt uses software to select eligible patients and buys up their debt for pennies on the dollar. The patients remain anonymous.

“There’s no application process. You don't have to go to any website. You would just receive a letter in the mail stating that your medical debt has been relieved,” said Ingham County Commissioner Myles Johnson.

The money from the county will also be matched by funds from the state. $4.5 million have been allocated towards RIP Medical Debt from Michigan’s 2024 budget.

“We could potentially have $500,000 to go towards the relief of medical debt of county residents in Ingham County,” Johnson said.

Medical debt affects 1 out of 3 adults in the U.S,according to the Commonwealth Fund, including those with health insurance, and is the leading cause of bankruptcies in the country. U.S Census data estimates that in 2017, around 19% of households were not able to pay for medical care.

“Over the past 40 years, insurance copays and deductibles have spiked, people go bankrupt over medical debt,” Johnson added.

The RIP Medical Debt website states that the nonprofit purchases debt in bundles, with each dollar covering between $10 and $100 in medical debt. Ingham County joins Wayne and Oakland Counties in utilizing public funds to alleviate medical debt for their residents.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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