Plymouth’s First Church repays Lincoln community’s medical debt

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – For many, paying medical bills can be a daunting and overwhelming task, especially when a pandemic means uncertainty in everything. To help ease the stress, a church in Lincoln is using the money from its collection to pay off these debts for those who live in the neighborhood it serves.

Plymouth’s First Church in Lincoln is pooling resources to buy medical debt. In other words, paying overdue medical bills.

In this case, they start with those of the near southern district.

“People are trying to pay $100 or $50 every month and we thought, you know what, let’s redeem that debt and forgive it, take that burden away,” said Dr Jim Keck, of First Plymouth Church.

For next year, collections made at First Plymouth Church will not go towards the church, but will pay off medical debts.

“A lot of these underinsured people, uninsured people, these people have had situations over the last year, two years with COVID, these have increased the amount of medical debt,” said Juan Huertas, of First Plymouth Church.

The church said much of the debt in downtown Lincoln is held by an agency, which then buys out a person’s debt at a slightly lower price and releases them from obligation. For them, it was important to start in the neighborhood.

“We’ve been here in the near south neighborhood for over 100 years,” Huertas said. “We are here and we have said that we want to help our neighbors to the best of our abilities”

So far, they’ve already helped a few people, most recently reimbursing a single mother’s $150 monthly payments.

“What’s most exciting is that we were already getting phone calls from people who were getting this letter and saying your bills were paid, and yesterday a girl was crying on the phone and was so emotional that the church was reaching out. hand,” Dr. Keck said.

The duo said now seemed like a good time to start, as the toll of the pandemic continues, especially in low-income households.

“We also hope it will show that there is an injustice in our medical system that the poorest people tend to have the most medical debt, that’s not right,” Dr. Keck said.

They use money collected at typical donation times during church services, but you can also text money to the church to help the cause.

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John A. Bogar