Kansas City doctors paying off medical debt for hundreds of people

Kansas City doctors paying off medical debt for hundreds of people
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A group of Kansas City area doctors is reportedly paying off medical debt on behalf of hundreds of patients in Kansas and Missouri.

The Midwest Direct Primary Care Alliance announced earlier this week that it donated about $11,000 to buy $1.47 million worth of medical debt for 784 patients in the two states, according to The Kansas City Star.

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“In our society we’ve decided that health care is a commodity and we’re going to have to pay for it in some way or another and until that changes we’re going to have to figure out a way to help people,” Allison Edwards, who owns Kansas City Direct Primary Care in Kansas City, Kan., told the newspaper.

The newspaper notes that the Midwest Direct Primary Care Alliance is an alliance of 21 medical clinics where the doctors don’t take health insurance. Instead, they charge a monthly membership fee for patients. 

Edwards added that 19 doctors and nurse practitioners who work at 15 of the alliance’s clinics pooled their funds and donated it to RIP Medical Debt, which is a nonprofit based in New York, according to the Star. 

RIP Medical Debt then used the donations to buy bundles of unpaid bills from collections agencies and medical providers. The Star noted that the charity focuses its time on military members and veterans, as well as low-income patients.

In order to qualify for aid, patients have to make less than twice the federal poverty limit. They also must possess medical debts that exceed their assets or have medical debts that are more than 5 percent of their annual income, the Star reported. 

Consumers received a gold-colored envelope in the mail from a place called “RIP Medical Debt" as a way to show their debt has been eliminated. 

“That debt forgiveness letter is your proof the debt has been abolished and is no longer collectible by anyone,” its website says.

“The amount of medical debt that exists within the [Kansas City metro area] is astounding,” Edwards said. “So it’s a small thing we did, relatively speaking. It sounds big, but there’s millions of dollars in debt, hundreds of millions, within the Kansas City metro area alone, that’s just sitting there asking to be paid and it’s not going to [be paid].”