“We Have A Broken Healthcare System”: An Ohio County Is Trying To Erase Up To $240 Million In Medical Debt

And while Grim said she doesn’t think there’s anything particularly worse than average about Toledo’s medical debt landscape, she knows the issue is nationally pressing — 41% of American adults have some kind of medical or dental debt, according to a 2022 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and she believes the debt removal could be a game-changer for the residents.

“We have a broken healthcare system,” Grim said. “We let people suffer, avoid medical care because they can’t pay, and that’s really unfortunate. As a local legislator I can’t fix that system, but I can help people get food on the table again.”

RIP Medical Debt will buy debt if two distinct criteria are met: the debtor earns less than four times the federal poverty level, and the amount of the debts are 5% or more of their annual income. The nonprofit also only focuses on debt that has been pre-qualified by its partners, meaning it works with certain hospitals and healthcare networks, so not every single practice may be eligible for forgiveness. Residents whose debt qualifies will receive letters stating the amount that has been forgiven after local officials sign their contracts with the organization.

Grim also hopes this will aid the economic recovery of Toledo and Lucas County. “Medical debt has been going on since our healthcare system has been in existence,” she said. “Washington might not have a plan for medical debt relief, but Toledo, Ohio, does.”

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