A pastor in Chicago teamed up with a rabbi in Illinois to help erase over a million worth in medical debt for families in the city.
Pastor Chris Harris of Bright Star Church in Bronzeville and St. James Church in Pullman, Chicago and Rabbi Ari Hart of Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue in Illinois have come together to raise funds to help erase up to $1.9 million in medical debt for 2,000 Chicago families. Pastor Harris approached Rabbi Hart with the idea, after which they raised more than $10,000.
The Chicago pastor and Illinois rabbi then gave the funds they raised to RIP Medical Debt, a company that buys medical debt for pennies on the dollar. Pastor Harris and Rabbi Hart's $10,000 was able to pay off $1.9 million worth of medical bills, but the families are not aware of it yet, Fox 32 Chicago reported.
"When that mail comes to their homes - can you imagine? I wish we could see all of their faces," Pastor Harris remarked. "I would literally go with Rabbi Hart to 2,000 homes just to see their faces."
Pastor Raised Concerns on Factors Preventing Families of Color From Seeking Medical Attention
Pastor Harris shared that a lot of people of color in Chicago feel fear of medical debt, which then prevents them from accessing healthcare. He explained, "Especially Black and Brown people in urban communities, you don't even go to the doctor. A lot of people walk in fear. It affects your quality of life."
A Pew Research Center report released in April revealed that a majority of Black Americans believe that their health outcomes have stayed the same or gotten worse in the past two decades. The report said that 31% Black Americans said that health outcomes for Black people had stayed the same, while 20% said it has gotten worse over the past 20 years. the main reason that Black Americans see contributing to generally worse health outcomes for Black people in the U.S. is less access to quality medical care. Another factor is hospitals and medical centers giving lower priority to Black people's wellbeing.
The report also said that a majority of Black Americans have had at least one of several negative experiences in health care, including having to speak up to access proper care and being treated with less respect compared to other patients. Specifically, Black women aged 18 to 49 said that they had at least one of seven negative healthcare experiences indicated in the survey.
Racial Disparities Exist in American Healthcare
The report revealed that most Black adults said that less access to quality medical care where they live is a major reason why Black folks in the U.S. have "generally...worse health outcomes" compared to other adults. Other factors include environmental problems and less-advanced care from health care providers.
Medical News Today reported that as per a 2019 study, Black individuals aged 51 to 55 were 28% more likely to already have a chronic illness compared to white people of the same age group. This reflects the results of the survey, in which 51% said that Black people generally have worse health outcomes because they were more likely to have preexisting health conditions.