TV station in Seattle buys $1M worth of debt viewers owe to medical providers
A Seattle TV station bought $1 million in medical debt forgiveness for people in its coverage area.
Poynter reported that the station, KIRO, spent $12,000 for the $1 million in debt owed to medical providers.
The move comes after a KIRO’s Jesse Jones reported about a woman who had cancer and was struggling to pay her medical bills. She needed treatment to survive, but could not afford it.
According to the station, debt is sold to a collection agency when providers are not able to get the payment owed on medical bills. The debt is sold for about 1 cent for each dollar, according to the station.
KIRO-TV bought $1 million worth of debt, which will help 1,000 viewers.
The station worked with a charity called RIP Medical Debt, which “locates, buys and forgives medical debt across America.”
Jones told Poynter he is a cancer survivor himself.
“I do well in my job and I have been on payment plans to pay my medical bills. When you have $200,000 in medical bills, even with insurance, you are on the hook for some of that,” he said.
“I started thinking about my story and the stories of the people I see at the cancer center who I talk to every day. 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.’ ”