Nearly 24,000 Arkansans are getting some relief from medical debt, and it’s all thanks to national and local community groups.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Nearly 24,000 Arkansans are getting some relief from medical debt, and it’s all thanks to a group of non-profits in our state.
Sarah Kinser, Chief Program Officer for Arkansas Community Foundation, was part of the group behind it all.
“We’re hopeful that this helps some folks get a fresh start,” she said.
Debt is something, that Kinser said, impacts people in more ways than their bank account.
“For people who are living at the edge of poverty, that can mean the difference between paying for food or medications or paying back on debt that they owe,” she said.
Debt is a major issue here in our state.
According to Kinser, 37% of Arkansans have debt in collections.
“That’s actually 10 percentage points higher than the national average, so it’s a big problem for Arkansas households,” she said.
It’s a big problem, that just got some relief and it’s all thanks to Kinser and her team at the Arkansas Community Foundation.
Through partnering with the national non-profit RIP Medical Debt and local partners like the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Hope Credit Union and other donors, Kinser said the groups were able to wipe out $35 million in Arkansans’ medical debt.
“Together the donors and foundations involved raised about $225,000, that enabled RIP Medical Debt to purchase $35 million of debt that they were able to forgive,” she said.
This will reach 24,000 Arkansas households in all 75 counties, according to Kinser, which means for each person or family it covers about $1,500 each.
“For families that are struggling and just on the edge of making the ends meet, it can be the difference between getting by or really falling into a financial hole that will put them behind for months and years to come,” she said.
This debt relief is making a big difference for those who will no longer have to carry around the burden any longer.
“It’s always really gratifying to know that folks are going to be able to focus on their family’s well being and move forward from what might have been a really tough situation,” Kinser said.
The debt relief also impacts Arkansas as a whole.
“It makes our entire state a healthier place to live,” Kinser said.
The recipients are randomly selected, but the group did focus on lower income households.
Kinser said impacted individuals will receive letters from the national non-profit soon.