Kansas City Doctors Rallied Together To Help Patients Pay Off Their Medical Debt

From medical treatments to bills, these doctors are putting patients first.

Photo by Rawpixel/Unsplash; illustration by Tatiana Cardenas/GOOD.

In the past couple of years, online fundraisers for medical bills have sprouted up at an increasingly high rate. GoFundMe — one of the largest online fundraising sites — alone has raised billions of dollars for people crowdsourcing their medical bills and various medications or treatments. The ever-present threat of going into debt because of illness or injury is yet another sign that health care in the U.S. is completely mismanaged.

But doctors in the Kansas City metro area understand the urgency of seeking medical help and are doing what they can to help their patients not feel inundated with bills.

They teamed up with a charity called RIP Medical Debt to help pay off the medical debt of hundreds of people in the area last week, totaling about $1.4 million dollars.

While RIP Medical Debt helps the general public, they primarily address the needs of members of the military, veterans, and low-income patients. In order to qualify, “patients must make less than twice the federal poverty limit, have medical debts that outstrip their assets, or have medical debts that are more than 5 percent of their annual income,” according to their website.

Dr. Ryan Neuhofel, one of the doctors who donated to pay off patients’ debts, said in a press release:

“When I worked within the large hospital systems, I couldn’t tell you how much an MRI was. Or what a lab would cost the patient. As doctors, we had been blinded to the cost of care, and — whether we like it or not — we bore some responsibility for patients’ bills. But now it’s our job, as direct primary care providers, to prioritize thinking about health care costs in the context of care and prevent debt like this from piling up in the first place.”

According to NBC News, 1 in 5 Americans has medical debt, and it all boils down to excessive U.S. government spending. Health care in the U.S. is by far one of the worst systems in the world — not only because we spend more than other countries, but because we also charge more than we need to.

“America spends much more on health care per capita than any other nation in the world and gets less health for it,” professor of economics John Komlos wrote in an op-ed titled “Here’s what’s wrong with the U.S. health care system.”

Last year, The New York Times asked several medical professionals to pick their ideal health care system between the richest countries in the world, including Canada, Britain, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, France, Australia, and the U.S. They looked at various forms of coverage (like single-payer and universal), innovation factors, and more. Germany nearly with tied Switzerland as the country with the best health care system, while the U.S. ranked much further down the list.

Allison Edwards, the owner of Kansas City Direct Primary Care, told The Kansas City Star that Neuhofel first heard about RIP Medical Debt on a segment of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” Even though they couldn’t fix the whole system, they all rallied to do their part to help their community — both in the doctor’s office and at the bank.

“In our society, we’ve decided that health care is a commodity and we’re going to have to pay for it in some way or another,” Edwards said, “and until that changes, we’re going to have to figure out a way to help people.”

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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