A New York City woman who died Sunday of cancer has raised enough money to erase millions of dollars in medical debt with a posthumous plea for help.
Casey McIntyre told her followers in a social media message posted by her husband that she had agreed to purchase others’ medical debt as a way to celebrate his life.
McIntyre wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “if you are reading this, I have passed away.”
“I loved each and every one of you with all my heart and I promise you that I knew how deeply you loved me,” the 38-year-old wrote. The posts included a link to a fundraising campaign started through the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt.
McIntyre’s husband, Andrew Rose Gregory, posted the messages on Tuesday and the campaign quickly surpassed its $20,000 goal. She had raised about $140,000 by Friday afternoon, or enough to buy about $14 million in medical debt.
Gregory said his wife had good health insurance and received excellent care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Still, the couple saw some “scary” charges in the paperwork for her care, she said.
“What resonated with me and Casey is that there are good cancer treatments that people can’t afford,” he said. “Instead of dreaming of a cure for cancer, what if we could simply help people who are being crushed by medical debt?”
Patients in the American healthcare system can quickly rack up large bills that put them in debt even if they have insurance. This is especially true for people who end up hospitalized or need regular care or prescriptions for chronic health problems.
A 2022 analysis of government data from the nonprofit KFF estimates that nearly 1 in 10 American adults owe at least $250 in medical debt. That total of about 23 million people includes 11 million who owe more than $2,000.
RIP Medical Debt erases debt purchased from hospitals and others health care suppliers and the secondary debt market. It buys millions of dollars of debt in bundles for what it says is a fraction of the original value.
The nonprofit says every dollar donated buys about $100 in debt and aims to help people with lower incomes. Spokesman Daniel Lempert said the organization has never had a campaign that anyone plans to start after his death.
McIntyre, who was a book editor, began treatment for ovarian cancer in 2019. She spent about three months in the hospital over the past year, her husband said.
The Brooklyn couple began planning her funeral and debt-buying campaign after she nearly died in May. They were inspired by a video they saw of North Carolina parishioners burning through about $3 million in medical debt.
McIntyre spent the last five months in home palliative care, giving her what Gregory calls an “extra summer.” She took trips to the beach and spent time with her family, including the couple’s 18-month-old daughter, Grace.
“Casey was very, very sick at the end of her life and couldn’t finish everything she wanted to finish,” Gregory said. “But she knew that she wanted to do this tribute and debt jubilee. So I set it up and… I did it the way I thought she would have wanted.”
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.