How nonprofits help millions tackle their medical debt
December 22, 2022
Nikiesha Barnett had knee surgery in 2006 and took unpaid leave from her job as a Georgia hospital coordinator while she was recovering. When Barnett wasn’t able to keep up with the payments for the surgery, she ended up owing about $4,500.
That debt lingered for almost 14 years until one day in 2020, she received a letter from a nonprofit telling her the debt had been relieved. RIP Medical Debt, a national nonprofit, had bought her debt and forgiven it.
Barrett says when she was in debt, she felt too guilty about what she owed to go to the doctor. Now that concern has been wiped away.
Barnett is one of the millions of Americans who’ve had medical debt paid by nonprofits that receive increased support from a wide variety of grantmakers and donors, including MacKenzie Scott. Scott gave RIP Medical Debt $30 million in November after awarding the organization $50 million in 2020.