This mid-Michigan organization works to help cancer patients with crippling medical debt

Photo credit: MGN

If you have medical insurance, you probably think you’re covered in an emergency. However, even with insurance, the bills that come after a trip to the hospital can be crippling. The charity, RIP Medical Debt, estimates we have around $230 million of unpaid medical bills right here in mid-Michigan.

It’s hard for patients with medical debt to find help. However, an organization is working to help cancer patients in our area. The Pardee Cancer Treatment Fund is helping cancer patients in Bay, Midland, Gladwin, Clare, Isabella and Gratiot counties.

Started in 1944, the Pardee Cancer Treatment Fund works to help cancer patients who are having trouble paying their bills.

“You don't even have to open them, just bring them to us,” said Debra McGill, the office manager at the Midland Pardee office.

McGill said they receive funds from the Pardee Foundation and they help patients based on financial need.

“We take a complete financial application on the patient. I mean, we look at their assets, we look at their bills, we look at the whole picture,” McGill said.

However, Pardee isn’t just a financial resource for cancer patients. They know how confusing the health care system is and they work as advocates.

“We’ll call the insurance, deal with it, figure out why something isn’t being covered,” McGill said, “we'll get it taken care of, then we call the hospital and tell them this is what you need to do to get that claim paid.”

McGill and her team will also call pharmaceutical companies and try to get a prescription’s price lowered for you.

However, not everyone in our viewing area has a Pardee office in their backyard, so we asked: what can patients do to keep medical debt from taking over?

McGill said the first step in communication. For example, if your doctor places you on an expensive medication, talk to him or her. Ask if there are alternatives.

That level of communication should extend to everyone you deal with. Tell the hospital you are having trouble paying your bills. They might be able to find help or set up a payment plan with you.

Because we know how devastating medical debt can be, FOX66 and NBC25 are working with the charity, RIP Medical Debt to eliminate some of that debt and so far, we’ve forgiven $1 million of local debt. However, we aren’t stopping there.

The way medical debt works, hospitals sell it to debt collectors for pennies on the dollar. That means all we need is $10,000 to buy another $1 million of medical debt.

For every dollar donated, ELGA Credit Union will match that, up to $5,000. If you’re able to give, please click the link below to securely donate.

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