A cancer patient's dying wish to burn medical debt goes viral, now topping $50M

Casey McIntyre, 38, died from ovarian cancer on Nov. 12. Since then, the campaign she started to pay off others' unpaid medical bills has topped $50 million.

Ms. McIntyre said that she wanted a "debt jubilee" to celebrate her life, in which she "arranged to buy up others' medical debt and then destroy the debt," according to social media posts she arranged with her husband to go live after she died. 

Ms. McIntyre was a publisher with a subsidiary of Penguin Random House in New York and navigated cancer treatments without debt since her 2019 diagnosis, but met many others who did not share that financial stability, according to The Washington Post

Ms. McIntyre and her husband, Andrew Gregory, learned of the medical debt-buying nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. For every $100 donated, the company relieves $10,000 of medical debt. Since its founding in 2014, the group has eliminated $10.4 billion in medical debt across the U.S. 

In her final days, Ms. McIntyre created a "debt jubilee" with RIP Medical Debt. Donations to the fund now top $597,000, meaning it will eliminate approximately $59 million in medical debt. Even when it was at $20 million, RIP Medical Debt executives said they had not seen a fund expand to this size and scope. 

Allison Sesso, president and CEO of RIP Medical Debt, said the pace of donations was record-setting for the nonprofit. "The amount that they're raising and the rate at which this has gone is not something that we're used to," she told The Post

The final accounting of the debt jubilee is expected to take place in December, when a memorial for Ms. McIntyre is planned. "We will celebrate her life by anonymously purchasing medical debt and then anonymously forgiving it, hopefully with a bonfire if they will let us," her husband wrote. (Ms. McIntyre's obituary can be found here.) 

"People are going to walk into Casey's memorial, cry and lose their minds in grief," Mr. Gregory told The Post. "But they're going to be able to walk out and say, 'Today, we wiped $10 million, $12 million or $15 million of medical debt off this plate and it's off the face of this Earth and it's because of Casey.'"

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