Regions Bank Helps Families Alleviate Medical Debt

Regions Bank Helps Families Alleviate Medical Debt

With financial support and new education tools, Regions is helping thousands of individuals and families deal with unpaid medical bills.
green piggy bank with stethoscope around it. Regions logo and "Next step"

Wednesday, August 24, 2022 - 9:00am

CONTENT: Blog

By Candace Higginbotham

“Wow! What a pleasant surprise when I checked my mail! As a single mom and first responder it’s hard to keep up with medical bills!! Thank you so much!!”

That’s just one response, from Acworth, Georgia, after the news that Regions has helped relieve the medical debt for some low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

Back in March, Regions announced a $50,000 grant to RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that purchases unpaid and unpayable debt at significantly reduced rates for households that are below twice the federal poverty level, insolvent, or going through hardship. When the medical debt is in their possession, rather than collect it, RIP Medical Debt forgives it.

Because debts are purchased for a fraction of their face value, $1 donated to RIP erases, on average, $100 of medical debt. So, the goal was that the Regions contribution would help RIP eliminate approximately $5 million of medical debt in three states in our footprint with the highest volume of medical or dental bills in collection.

Turns out, that $50,000 grant has abolished $12.8 million worth of medical debt for 12,000 people.

"Medical financial hardship is a serious issue for individuals and families in our communities – it’s a major contributor to financial instability and the leading cause of personal bankruptcies. I’m proud that our contribution has made a real difference."
Leroy Abrahams, head of Community Affairs

“We’re so pleased that this community partnership with RIP Medical Debt has had an even greater impact than we expected,” said Leroy Abrahams, head of Community Affairs. “Medical financial hardship is a serious issue for individuals and families in our communities – it’s a major contributor to financial instability and the leading cause of personal bankruptcies. I’m proud that our contribution has made a real difference.”

The cost of health care has been a concern in the U.S. for many years. And it’s not just a problem for the uninsured. High deductibles, out-of-network charges and unexpected bills can create a financial strain for even those who have health insurance. The Covid-19 pandemic and current inflationary pressures have only exacerbated the problem of unpaid medical bills.

A debt-relief recipient from Rockport, Texas, said, “I am 49 years old, born with Turner Syndrome (a chromosome disorder). As a result, I have heart problems, and have undergone three heart surgeries. I work full time and have insurance but still was unable to pay off the medical bills I’ve accumulated. This is a true blessing, and I am forever grateful.”

But debt forgiveness programs like RIP Medical Debt aren’t the only solution available for those burdened with medical financial hardship. Regions has also developed an online education program to help patients and families manage their finances during a medical hardship, prevent bankruptcy and better position themselves for a more secure future.

“Individuals can’t reach out directly to organizations like RIP Medical Debt for assistance, because those groups purchase unpaid debt from other businesses,” said Wendi Boyen, Community Advocacy and Financial Wellness manager. “So, we created easy access to helpful and straightforward advice and guidance to help manage medical bills, no matter the amount owed or stage of the process.”

Regions has also developed an online education program to help patients and families manage their finances during a medical hardship, prevent bankruptcy and better position themselves for a more secure future.

Four medical financial hardship courses are available at no charge to consumers through Regions Next Step, regardless of whether they have a Regions account. Topics include managing out-of-pocket healthcare costs, negotiating the medical bill, preventing bankruptcy and obtaining debt relief for medical debt.

Boyen encourages everyone to review these courses, no matter your health or financial status, and get informed about medical financial issues well before you need it – and share the information with friends and family.

“Medical issues can be difficult and traumatic, especially when dealing with serious illness or sudden accidents,” Boyen said. “It’s better to be prepared and knowledgeable beforehand instead of trying to navigate complicated financial matters during a stressful time.”

Boyen continued, saying, “We’re pleased with the progress made so far, but this issue isn’t going away any time soon. We’ll continue helping families be better prepared to navigate medical financial hardships. It reflects Regions Bank’s mission and values, and it enhances our community engagement priority to foster inclusive prosperity through financial wellness.”

Read about a Regions Bank associate who leaned on tragic events in her past to help others facing medical financial hardship.