Seattle TV Station Buys $1M in Patient Debt – AND Forgives It!

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If you’re in the hospital, your health and your pocketbook are taking a hit.

A TV station in Seattle (6.5% Latino) tried a unique way—buying debt from people’s medical expenses, then forgiving it(!)—to improve the lives of locals dealing with cancer, The Hill reports.

Buy why?

‘Big Issues with the Bills’

Seattle TV station KIRO has purchased $1 million in patient debt in an effort to forgive it and provide some financial relief to area residents (photo via The Hill)

TV station KIRO reporter Jesse Jones – a cancer survivor himself – reported a story about a cancer patient that was struggling to pay her bills and couldn’t afford further treatments.

Many Latinos face this situation. 27% of Latinos have no usual health care provider and 15% have no health insurance, according to a Salud America! research review. These Latinos often end up seeking routine healthcare in the emergency room, which can be very costly.

After his report, Jones decided to take action.

“I started thinking about my story and the stories of the people I see at the cancer center who I talk to every day,” Jones said. “I said ‘Let’s talk about the people who have issues, big issues with the bills that have forced them into bankruptcy, forcing them to make choices about whether to get treatment.’”

Buying the Debt

The station worked with the nonprofit group RIP Medical Debt to buy the debt for $12,000.

The nonprofit locates, buys, and forgives medical debt that have been sold by hospitals and insurance companies to collection agencies.

“I do well in my job and I have been on payment plans to pay my medical bills,” Jones said. “When you have $200,000 in medical bills, even with insurance, you are on the hook for some of that.”

Is this something your media outlet or group could try?!

By The Numbers By The Numbers

56.9

percent

of Latinos are "housing cost burdened"

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