Churches wiping out others' medical debt

by jerry on June 16, 2019
In what might be a bit of a silver lining to health care's high prices, Kaiser Health News published a piece about churches wiping out others' medical debt for a small fraction of the actual loan value. An example listed in the article is one church paying $22,000 to wipe out $2.2 million of medical debt for others.

This story is a feel-good story of people using leverage to wipe out what is commonly a huge source of stress for others. Unfortunately, the ratio of the amount paid to the nominal loan value speaks to how high the original medical bills were to begin with. Someone not having insurance likely also does not the means to pay for a major medical procedure. Hospitals might try to bill patients for the expensive procedures, only to realize over time that the patients are unable to pay. The medical institutions might then sell the debt for very little to debt collectors, who then in turn might sell the debt after they have tried collecting. One might imagine that a better system would be one in which prices for medical procedures were more affordable to begin with and fewer people had to deal with the stress of outsized medical debt.