Past Due: How Medical Debt Impacts Families and Communities

Thousands of families in our community are burdened by insurmountable medical debt, contributing to other dilemmas such as ruined credit, bankruptcy, and homelessness. On Sunday, April 24, 2002, we hosted a panel discussion on this dilemma.

In 2019, AFBC started a discussion with East Alabama Medical Center and other churches about the possibility of a Medical Debt Forgiveness Project. The conversations were interrupted by the pandemic, but we resumed them in the fall 2021. EAMC identified 2,630 families with the burden of medical debt, living well beneath the federal poverty line. Each family did not have health insurance and were self-payers.

The combined debt of these families is about $17.9 million, which encompasses a six-year period. East Alabama Medical Center agreed to receive 2% of these funds through donations, and they would forgive the remainder of the debt. Several churches have participated in this effort to raise about $358,000 in order to forgive the medical debt.

We welcome these panelists:

• Frances Ford, Executive Director, Sowing Seeds of Hope
• Dr. Gwen Cattledge, Professor, Department of Public Health, Mercer University
• Sutricia Johnson, Director, Case Management, East Alabama Medical Center
• Reverend Laura Eason, Chaplain, EAMC

We are thankful to have partnered with others in our community to support families suffering from medical debt, and we look forward to learning more about this dilemma.

Auburn First Baptist Church