First Plymouth Church pays off medical debt for Lincoln community
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -For many, paying medical bills can be a daunting and overwhelming task, especially when a pandemic means uncertainty in all areas. To help ease the stress, a Lincoln church is using its collection money to pay off these debts for those who live in the neighborhood they serve.
First Plymouth Church in Lincoln is pooling its resources to buy medical debt. In other words, paying off overdue medical bills.
In this case, they’re starting with those in the near south neighborhood.
“Folks trying to pay $100 or $50 each month and we thought, you know what, lets buy up that debt and forgive it, take away that burden,” said Dr. Jim Keck, First Plymouth Church.
For the next year, collections made at the First Plymouth Church will not be going towards the church, but paying off medical debts.
“A lot of these folks under insured, uninsured people these people have had situations in the last year, two years with COVID those have mounted the amount of medical debt,” said Juan Huertas, First Plymouth Church.
The church said much of the debt in central Lincoln is held by one agency, it then buys a person’s debt at a bit of a discount and frees them of the obligation. For them, it was important to start in the neighborhood.
“We’ve been here in the near south neighborhood for over 100 years,” said Huertas. “We’re right here and we said we want to help our neighbors to the best of our ability”
So far they’ve already helped a few people, most recently paying off a single mother’s $150 month payments.
“What’s most exciting is that were already receiving phone calls from people that get this letter and say your bills are payed, and yesterday one gal was crying on the phone and just so moved that the church was reaching out,” said Dr. Keck.
The duo said right now seemed like the time to start, as the pandemic toll continues, especially in the lower-income households.
“We also hope this will show there’s an injustice in our medical system that people that are the most poor tend to have the most medical debt, that’s not right,” said Dr. Keck.
They’re using money collected at typical donation times during church services, but you’re also able to text in money to the church to help the cause.
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