A Los Angeles church is relieving the burden of medical debt for over 5,500 families in its local area as a way to say Merry Christmas.
Medical debt is a crippling weight that many American families carry. Unable to keep up with the payments, many families end up filing for bankruptcy.
According to Christian Assembly Church co-lead pastor Tom Hughes, 60 percent of personal bankruptcies are caused by medical debt.
Christian Assembly Church decided to combat the debt that has plagued so many families in the Los Angeles area by paying off $5.3 million worth of medical debt for 5,555 families in 28 neighborhoods this Christmas season.
In a video statement, Hughes explained that the church was able to purchase medical debt from RIP Medical Debt, an organization that buys medical debt from around the country for mere pennies on the dollar in order to retire the debt.
Hughes explained that the generous giving from people in the Christian Assembly Church congregation allowed the church the financial means to purchase the debt.
The families that received the gift were some of the poorest families in the local area, vulnerable families living below the poverty line, facing financial hardship and the possibility of bankruptcy or homelessness.
Hughes said that each family will receive a letter explaining that the debt has been canceled, “no strings attached.”
Because of privacy regulations, only the billing company knows the names of the families who will receive the gift.
“I’d love to be a fly on the wall for someone receiving a notification like this,” church member Blythe Hill told KABC-TV.
Recipients do not have to respond to the letter, so even if the notification goes unopened or is accidentally thrown away, the debt will still be cleared, KABC reported.
“Once we do this, it will end the harassing phone calls from the debt collectors,” Hughes said on the video.
“Not only that, we will work with the credit agencies to repair their credit score for the impact of this unpaid medical bills.”
“God’s for you and we’re excited to share this gift of generosity because of the generosity of our God,” Hughes told KABC.
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