A Seattle TV station has purchased $1 million in healthcare debt owed by viewers in its coverage area.
KIRO spent reportedly spent $12,000 to buy the $1 million in debt owed to medical providers and sent out letters to the 1,000 viewers informing them that all their debt had been forgiven.
The station decided to make the move after KIRO’s Jesse Jones reported about a woman battling cancer but could no longer afford her treatments because she was struggling to pay her medical bills.
KIRO-TV reported that debt is sold to a collection agency when providers are not able to get the payment owed on medical bills. The debt is then sold for about 1 cent for each dollar.
The station enlisted the help of RIP Medical Debt, a charity which “locates, buys and forgives medical debt across America.”
“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,” reports Poynter.
“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.’ ”