US church uses donations to pay off $2.6m in medical debt for 2,400 families

US church uses donations to pay off $2.6m in medical debt for 2,400 families

A TEXAS church has hit the headlines after deciding to use its donations to pay off $2.6 million in medical debut accrued by some 2,400 families across the local region.

Speaking to ABC News, Lake Pointe Church Pastor Josh Howerton explained that the initiative was part of the church’s new “Pay It Forward” campaign.

"We wanted to celebrate our 40th anniversary by passing forward the generosity that has been given to us, to people in our communities," Howerton said.

As part of the anniversary celebrations, the church has donated money to a variety of local non-profit organisations tackling everything from homelessness to domestic violence.

However, the church decided focus much of its support to helping families struggling to pay off medical debt after research showed more 60 per cent of bankruptcies in the US could be attributed to this particular type of debt.

According to a study from the February 2019 edition of the American Journal of Public Health medical problems contributed to 66.5% of all bankruptcies in America.

The church reached out to the non-profit organisation RIP Medical Debt back in May to try and offer support to those tackling finance issues of this kind.

RIP Medical Debt uses donations to buy medical debt at pennies on the dollar, and then forgives the debt.

Working together, RIP Medical Debt helped Lake Pointe Church identify the recipients.

"One of the great things the organisation does is that it works with the people who hold those debts to be able to negotiate down the payoffs," Howerton explained.

"So we were able to eliminate $2.6 million of medical debt for around $27,000."

Pastor Howerton says Lake Pointe Church boasts around 12,000 members spread across multiple campuses.

He’s hopeful that the church’s kind gesture will inspire more to do the same.

"We want our people to do one act of kindness per day for the next 40 days," Howerton said.

"So, if you do the math, that's 40 days times 12,000 people and half-a-million needs met. That's the vision we have for this campaign."