This Christmas, a chance to change lives

Reducing medical debt in Appalachia

Most of us have either experienced for ourselves or know somebody for whom medical debt has become a crippling burden. The corruption of both the politics and financing of our healthcare system along with the predatory debt collection industry have combined to make it next to impossible for many of our neighbors to afford the healthcare services they desperately need.

When my friend David Finnegan-Hosey decided to dedicate proceeds from his latest book, Grace is a Pre-Existing Condition, to an organization called RIP Medical Debt, it got my attention.

And when he told our New Wineskins community about how the whole process worked and how little money it actually takes to write off massive amounts of medical debt, we decided to do something about it.

So this Advent season, we’re partnering with RIP Medical Debt to help our neighbors in the Appalachian region for whom medical debt is a significant barrier to physical and economic well being. According to their website:

A recent study showed that in Appalachia, out-of-pocket healthcare costs are 40% higher than the national average, and this year almost every state in Appalachia suffered a decline in insurance coverage—sure to make things worse.

Nearly one in five people in Appalachia are in poverty, and medical debt makes that poverty impossible to escape. Medical debt destroys a family’s credit rating; denying access to loans, an apartment, and even a job. People in medical debt are less likely to seek medical care or fill prescriptions so that, in the end, medical debt not only destroys well-being and economic security, it can kill.

With an approximate payoff of $100 in debt relief for each dollar donated, the organizations says that “On average, $16 can abolish the medical debt of an entire family, allowing them to invest in a home, schooling, or retirement.”

Our faith community would like to extend the invitation to all of our friends to participate in this life-changing opportunity to reduce or eliminate a significant source of debt from our neighbors in one of the poorest regions of America.

And I’m excited to extend that invitation to you, dear reader.

If you’d like to be part of that story this Christmas, you can donate by credit card through our New Wineskins giving portal.

The prophet Amos called to let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. For many in Appalachia, where the waters and streams run out of mountains and valleys exploited for generations by extractive, colonizing industries, justice can seem like a distant dream. Especially when the region’s crippling poverty is compounded by overwhelming medical debt for many of its residents.

I hope you’ll consider making a donation that can help change the life of a family in Appalachia.

Please click here to make a donation today.

Shalom y’all,

In January 2021, I’ll be migrating this blog from to a more content-rich site at, which is currently hosting my bi-weekly podcast and links back to this site for blog articles. I’ll be posting details about that soon, but if you want to continue to keep up with these writings, please be sure to subscribe to for email updates whenever new content is posted! Meanwhile, you’ll still be able to access all of our archived articles here at Thanks for reading! —Joe

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