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Gregory says his wife would never have imagined the impact her fund would have. Andrew Gregory hide caption

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Andrew Gregory

Before dying, she made a fund to cancel others' medical debt — nearly $70M worth

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Kayce Atencio, who has been shadowed by medical debt for most of his adult life, had been unable to rent an apartment because of poor credit due to medical debt, he said. Recent reporting changes by credit rating agencies have removed many debts from consumer credit reports and lifted scores for millions, a new study finds. Rachel Woolf for KFF Health News hide caption

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Rachel Woolf for KFF Health News

Health advocates and community members gathered in Washington D.C. in mid September to push the Biden administration to take additional action on medical debt in an event hosted by nonprofit Community Catalyst. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Community Catalyst hide caption

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Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Community Catalyst

Medical debt could soon be barred from ruining your credit score

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Kayce Atencio, who had a heart attack when he was 19, was unable to rent an apartment for years because of bad credit attributed in part to thousands of dollars of medical debt. "It always felt like I just couldn't get a leg up," says Atencio, one of millions of Americans whose access to housing is threatened by medical debt. Rachel Woolf for KFF Health News hide caption

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Rachel Woolf for KFF Health News

An analysis of court records by the state treasurer and Duke researchers finds Atrium Health in Charlotte, N.C., accounted for almost a third of the legal actions against North Carolina patients over roughly five years. Logan Cyrus for KHN hide caption

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Logan Cyrus for KHN

Bridget Narsh at her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Narsh's son has autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and ADHD. In 2020, he spent more than 100 days at Central Regional Hospital, a state-run mental health facility. The state billed the family nearly $102,000 for the hospitalizations. Eamon Queeney/KFF Health News hide caption

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Eamon Queeney/KFF Health News

Bethany Birch paid more than $5,200 toward her medical debt after getting sued by Ballad Health in 2018. Owing to a Tennessee court judgment, she accrued an additional $2,700 in interest over that time. Maddy Alewine/KFF Health News hide caption

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Maddy Alewine/KFF Health News

The hospital bills didn't find her, but a lawsuit did — plus interest

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When Kristie Fields was undergoing treatment for breast cancer nine years ago, a nurse suggested she go on the local news and ask for help with her medical bills. Fields says she and her husband quickly dismissed the idea. Sonja Foster/KFF Health News hide caption

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Sonja Foster/KFF Health News

'We're not doing that': A Black couple won't crowdfund to pay medical debt

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Delores Lowery was diagnosed with diabetes in 2016. Her home in Marlboro County, S.C., is at the heart of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the Diabetes Belt. Nick McMillan/NPR hide caption

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Nick McMillan/NPR

Many people living in the 'Diabetes Belt' are plagued with medical debt

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Doctors' offices often offer special medical credit cards as a solution to paying off large medical bills. But patients may end up paying far more for their bills when they have to pay interest down the road. Fly View Productions/Getty Images hide caption

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Fly View Productions/Getty Images

Marcus and Allyson Ward were paying off a debt dating back to the birth of their twins, Theo and Milo. They are among 100 million Americans with medical debt, according to a KHN/NPR investigation. Taylor Glascock for KHN and NPR hide caption

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Taylor Glascock for KHN and NPR

Jeff and Kareen King received a hospital bill for $160,000 a few weeks after Jeff had a procedure to restore his heart rhythm. Bram Sable-Smith/KHN hide caption

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Bram Sable-Smith/KHN

Dr. Eckart Rolshoven examines a patient at his clinic in Püttlingen, a small town in Germany's Saarland region. Although Germany has a largely private health care system, patients pay nothing out-of-pocket when they come to see him. Pasquale D'Angiolillo for KHN hide caption

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Pasquale D'Angiolillo for KHN

Lessons from Germany to help solve the U.S. medical debt crisis

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Many hospitals are now partnering with financing companies to offer payment plans when patients and their families can't afford their bills. The catch: the plans can come with interest that significantly increases a patient's debt. sesame/Getty Images hide caption

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sesame/Getty Images

Diagnosed with cancer five years ago, Monica Reed of Knoxville, Tennessee, was left with nearly $10,000 in medical bills she couldn't pay. Medical debt is more prevalent among the Black community in Knoxville, than among whites. Jamar Coach for KHN and NPR hide caption

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Jamar Coach for KHN and NPR

Why Black Americans are more likely to be saddled with medical debt

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Jesse Zhang for NPR and KHN

Paying for mental health care leaves families in debt and isolated

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Penelope Wingard of Charlotte, N.C., has survived breast cancer, a brain aneurysm and surgery on both eyes. For the past eight years, she's also been battling tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt. Aneri Pattani/ KHN hide caption

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Aneri Pattani/ KHN

Aerial view of downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Some hospitals in Texas and around the U.S. are seeing high profits, even as their bills force patients into debt. Of the nation's 20 most populous counties, none has a higher concentration of medical debt than Tarrant County, home to Fort Worth. Jupiterimages/Getty Images hide caption

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Jupiterimages/Getty Images

After years of carrying medical debt from the premature birth of her daughter, Terri Logan recently discovered a nonprofit called RIP Medical Debt had paid off her bills. Juan Diego Reyes for KHN and NPR hide caption

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Juan Diego Reyes for KHN and NPR

This group's wiped out $6.7 billion in medical debt, and it's just getting started

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Lucille Brooks, a retiree who lives in Pittsford, New York, was sued in 2020 for nearly $8,000 by a nursing home that had taken care of her brother. The nursing home dropped the case after she showed she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him. Heather Ainsworth for KHN hide caption

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Heather Ainsworth for KHN

Nursing homes are suing friends and family to collect on patients' bills

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Jeni Rae Peters and daughter embrace at their home in Rapid City, S.D. In 2020, Peters was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. After treatment, Peters estimates that her medical bills exceeded $30,000. Dawnee LeBeau for NPR hide caption

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Dawnee LeBeau for NPR

She was already battling cancer. Then she had to fight the bill collectors

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