Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — A total of $225 million dollars worth of medical debt is about to be wiped out, helping millions of Americans swimming in medical bills, and a Utah company has teamed up to help out.
It's a good thing Etienne Carignan has plenty of plastic bags. He needs them to store all the medical bills that keep piling up in his Sandy home after he underwent a long hospital stay because of COVID and is now suffering with the long-term effects of neurological issues and pain.
"It happened so fast," he said. "At last count, it was $1.65 million."
It's a number he looks at and still can't believe.
He doesn't know how he's going to pay it all off.
"If you count my kids and my wife and my family, yeah, I'm rich, but as far as monetary value, not so much," he said.
So, when he heard a company wants to wipe out some medical debt in Utah, it was something else he couldn't believe.
"If they bought my debt, I would be ecstatic," said Carignan.
Etienne Carignan, who lives in Sandy, has $1.65 million in medical debt. Today, he found out a healthcare company is working with a debt relief group to try and eliminate $100 million of medical debt in Utah. We're doing a story on this, and how it's possible, on @KSL5TV at 6. pic.twitter.com/NHuWA2Wbi6— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) September 21, 2021
Nomi Health operates in several states, including Utah.
"The worst part about American health care is you never know how much it's going to cost," said Mark Newman, who is the CEO of Nomi Health.
Newman said it feels nice to be part of a solution to something that has been harming families for too long.
He decided to team up with RIP Medical Debt and donate $2 million dollars to the group.
RIP Medical Debt became popular after it was featured in an episode of HBO's "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver, when it eliminated $15 million in medical bills.
"It's a very high leverage way to help a lot of people and have a lot of impact that just helps people get going again in life," said Newman.
RIP Medical Debt's criteria to qualify is either to live at two times below the poverty line, or to have debt equal to 5% or more of annual income.
Carignan doesn't know if he will be included, but says it's been a while since hope has felt so good.
"Just to move forward with my life, you know?" he said.
Those whose medical debts are being eliminated will start getting letters in the mail in the next few weeks.
In all, Nomi Health believes close to 73,000 Utah residents will benefit.