Hundreds of Kansas residents received letters in the mail last month explaining how they had been completely forgiven of medical debt – and it is all thanks to a group of doctors and nurse practitioners who want to atone for the hardships caused by their career fields.
The medical care providers donated $10,000 of their own money so they could buy out and forgive $1.4 million worth of medical debt for people in the Kansas City region.
The practitioners are all members of the Midwest Direct Primary Care Alliance: a group of doctors and nurses who support the Direct Primary Care model of health care in Kansas, rather than insurance-based billing and copays.
The physicians say that they joined the alliance because they regretted the financial distress that they helped bestow on their patients. So as a means of repenting for the flawed health care system in which they participated, the alliance members partnered with RIP Medical Debt to clear 784 people of medical debt.
“When I worked within the large hospital systems, I couldn’t tell you how much an MRI was. Or what a lab would cost the patient. As doctors, we had been blinded to the cost of care, and – whether we like it or not – we bore some responsibility for patients’ bills,” noted one of the doctors. “But now’s our job, as direct primary care providers, to prioritize thinking about healthcare costs in the context of care and prevent debt like this from piling up in the first place.”
Anyone who is inspired by the group’s efforts can visit the organization’s website to make a donation and forgive someone’s medical debt. Since debt collectors purchase other people’s medical debt for pennies on the dollar, a simple donation of $50 can forgive $5,000 worth of medical debt.
“We take an oath to do no harm, but our profession seems to have forgotten that doing no harm should also include doing no financial harm,” said Kylie Vannaman, the chairperson of the organization. “It was natural, then, for all of us independent doctors to work together to provide the gift of debt relief to the region.”
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