America is unique among many civilized countries in that the healthcare system in America is almost entirely privatized, and almost entirely for profit. This has led to a dysfunctional system where one of the leading causes of bankruptcies in America is excessive medical debt, and it’s a reasonable fear that many Americans worry about falling prey to.

Public Systems Exist

Public systems such as Medicaid and Medicare are available to provide healthcare at low or no cost, but these systems are only available to certain types of people. If you’re under the age of qualifying for Medicare, or above the income bracket to qualify for Medicaid, you’re likely stuck relying on private insurance purchased through the public marketplace.

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Unfortunately for many Americans, private plans purchased through the public marketplace are often expensive, and don’t cover as much as employer-provided healthcare. This has created a system where medical coverage is often, unfortunately, linked to employment, leaving many Americans without adequate healthcare coverage.

Different States Are Burdened Differently

The levels of state-to-state medical debt vary depending on where in the country you’re looking. Unfortunately, conservative states have been cutting funding for public programs such as Medicaid and Medicare for years, which has left many lower-income residents more vulnerable to medical debt stemming from emergencies.

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The for-profit healthcare system has become an all-encompassing monster that many Americans fear falling victim to. Comparing prices of procedures and materials in America to other developed countries has led many to be disillusioned with the American healthcare system, leading to a renewed push for single-payer healthcare in the last twenty years.

Single Payer Healthcare Would Be Less Expensive

While there are many models that suggest that single-payer healthcare would, in fact, be less expensive to the system than the current arrangement of for-profit private companies, political pushes have slowed progress towards a single-payer system in America.

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Lobbyists have worked diligently with super PAC’s and other wealthy donors to slow the progress of any legislation that would introduce a single-payer system. This has dragged out and increased the amount of medical debt that Americans have been burdened by in the last several decades, and has led to wider conversations around the issue, both on state and federal levels.

State Solutions Reign Supreme

Given the reluctance of the federal government to pass legislation that would solve the crisis of medical debt in America once and for all, solutions to the problem have been found on a state level. States like California have gone out of their way to expand their state medicaid programs, providing more healthcare options for low-income Americans.

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Other states have gone straight to the source of the issue, canceling medical debt altogether. This is a fairly liberal consideration, one that goes along with student loan debt cancelation, and a recent act in favor of this has come out of one of the more unlikely states.

Democrats in Arizona Doing the Work

Arizona was a GOP stronghold in local, state, and federal elections for years before the 2020 election, when the state flipped for the Democrats for the first time in decades. In addition to voting for Biden, Katie Hobbs handily defeated Kari Lake, the Trump-endorsed MAGA Republican who was running for the gubernatorial seat in the state.

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Since taking office, Katie Hobbs has been busy attempting to make things better for Arizonans. She has vetoed several bills attacking LGBTQ+ youth since taking the governor’s seat, and most recently, has paired with RIP Medical Debt with the goal of forgiving medical debt for constituents of her state.

About RIP Medical Debt

RIP Medical Debt is a nonprofit organization whose goal is mass forgiveness of medical debt. In the United States, a goal as lofty as this one would seem difficult or impossible to lead with, especially given the scope of medical debt that some individuals have been burdened with in a for-profit system.

Source: RIP Medical Debt

RIP Medical Debt works towards forgiving medical debt for individuals by purchasing massive portfolios of debt for pennies on the dollar of what the debt is worth. Then, rather than pursuing the collection of the debt with individuals, RIP Medical Debt sends recipients letters that their debt has been forgiven wholesale.

Forgiving Billions in Debt

A partnership between Katie Hobbs and RIP Medical Debt has led to a program that will provide medical debt relief to as many as one million Arizonans. The program will use $30 million in American Rescue Plan funds that were allocated to states during the pandemic to offer this relief to Arizona residents.

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The $30 million provided through the program could end up forgiving as much as $2 billion in medical debt, which will be the largest public-private initiative to wipe out medical debt. Arizonans affected will receive a letter informing them of their newfound relieved debt, and their credit scores will be automatically adjusted to reflect this change.

Arizona Joins Other States

Arizona is the latest state to join several others in their quest to provide relief to everyday Americans from the burden of medical debt. In early February, Connecticut governor Ned Lamont announced that the state was going to cancel approximately $650 million in medical debt for 250,000 of its residents.

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In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy added a request to expand a medical debt relief program in his latest budget proposal. Katie Hobbs is not the only Democratic governor putting the needs of their constituents ahead of the drivers of the profit-first healthcare system, and the effort is providing much-needed relief for thousands of Americans.

Next Logical Steps

The next logical step to the medical debt relief conversation is making healthcare more affordable from the get-go, whether that is through a single payer healthcare system or other methods. While that conversation is being had, though, efforts like those out of Arizona and other Democratic states are much needed for individuals who have found themselves burdened by medical debt.

Source: X/GovernorHobbs

The news that their debt is being relieved will be a massive boon for thousands of Arizonans, and this is only the beginning of what Governor Hobbs is hoping to do. She’s constantly on the lookout for ways that she can improve the lives of her constituents, and is determined to do everything in her power to make life better for Arizonans in the future.