Church uses fiscal ‘math error’ to pay off $7.2 million in medical debt

medical debt, medical bills
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What would it mean to your family if your medical debt was canceled? Recently, 6,500 families had a chance to find out when a church took advantage of this fiscal year’s quirks in order to pay off $7.2 million in the debt of those families. It turns out that the 2018-2019 fiscal year has an extra week – 53 weeks instead of the usual 52 – and the church took advantage of that extra Sunday to help these and other families with their debt.

Pastor Dan Glenn from Stetson Baptist Church figured out that they could use the extra Sunday to collect an extra week’s worth of offerings from his congregation. But, he went one step further and initiated a “53rd Sunday” week-long fundraising campaign during which time he hoped to raise $48,000. To say the campaign was a smashing success is an understatement. The congregation was able to raise a whopping $153,867.

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The church then split that money and sent it to two charities. According to the report:

“Half of the money went to Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, which supports local foster care. The second went [to] the charity group RIP Medical Debt.”

But how does just about $77,000 wind up paying off 7.2 million in debt? The group RIP Medical Debt buys medical debt from the companies that own it for pennies on the dollar and then cancels it. Something the average person often cannot do.

Medical debt in the United States has grown to an all-time high. Americans spend more on their medical bills than any other country, and about 72 million people have trouble paying their medical bills or have debt.

Of the fundraiser, Pastor Glenn said:

“This was something that really struck a chord with our church. Debt is something that I think everyone can get behind. But our church is unique in that we have an undercurrent in our church of fostering and adoption, both from the perspective of families that have fostered kids and adopted children but also through adults who were foster children or adoptees.”

As for the foster home charity, the church usually raises enough to support one foster home for a year, but after raising so much, they believe they’ll be able to support three.  

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