Resurrection, Decatur, paying off medical debt for its neighbors

Surveys suggest Americans owe at least $195 billion in medical debt.

That’s an almost unimaginable amount of money, but it did not intimidate one small congregation in the North Region when it decided to pay off some of that debt for people in their area.

Fueled by faith and grace, the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Decatur, northwest of Fort Worth in Wise County, has raised money to pay off more than $535,000 in medical bills.

So far.

They are doing it by working with the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, a 501 charity focused on the elimination of personal medical debt by purchasing medical debt at a steep discount on the debt collection market. Because of the steep discount, every dollar donated may forgive tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt.

Resurrection’s congregation, which numbers about 25, took note, and got to work.

The local newspaper, the Wise County Messenger, recently carried a story about the church’s outreach.

In June 2022, NPR, in partnership with Kaiser Health News (KHN), reported that in the past five years, more than half of U.S. adults report they’ve gone into debt because of medical or dental bills. The report stated that a “quarter of adults with health care debt owe more than $5,000. And about 1 in 5 with any amount of debt said they don’t expect to ever pay it off.”

According to the U.S. Bureau, Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country. Additionally, even for those with with insurance, medical costs, deductibles, and copays have increased. 

From the NPR report: “Debt is no longer just a bug in our system. It is one of the main products,” said Dr. Rishi Manchanda, who has worked with low-income patients in California for more than a decade and served on the board of the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. “We have a health care system almost perfectly designed to create debt.”’

The report observed that this debt burden is “forcing families to cut spending on food and other essentials.” Millions are being driven from their homes or into bankruptcy, the KHN poll found.

When Resurrection was getting started – it began in 2015 as a house church in the home of one of its members – the congregation determined they would pick a mission a month as a way to reach out to their community. As the local paper reports, “In the last year, members have come together to provide resources to organizations and agencies including the Wise County Animal Shelter, local fire departments, CASA, and the Children’s Advocacy Center. “

And now Resurrection is working to lift that burden from some of their neighbors. This effort will last more than a month — their fundraising lasts through March. If you want to help, you can donate here.

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