A south Forsyth resident has donated to wipe out $1.8 million in medical debt of nearly 1,000 families in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.
Paul Hoyt, owner of Connoisseur of Time, a business specializing in vintage and luxury watches located on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Suwannee, partnered with RIP Medical Debt to pay the past-due debts of 998 families in the two counties.
Hoyt said his donation was just a fraction of the full $1.8 million, which is one of the things that attracted him to the project.
“You can pay off all this debt by paying just pennies on the dollar,” Hoyt said. “That was kind of one of my attractions: you can have this big impact with a donation that to us is still sizable but just a fraction of the debt that you're able to pay off.”
Initially, Hoyt had only planned to pay for individuals in Forsyth County but soon expanded into neighboring Gwinnett.
“The truth of the matter is we kind of set aside a certain dollar amount and there wasn't enough debt in Forsyth to receive all that, so we were able to pay off all of Forsyth," he said. "Then it was like, 'Well, let's start looking at Gwinnett, too.'”
According to RIP, medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the country and two-thirds of all bankruptcies are tied to a medical event, with that number expected to rise due to the impact of COVID-19.
To combat that, RIP purchases past-due medical debt “in large, bundle portfolios for a fraction of each debt's face value.”
Hoyt said each year, he and his family try to do charitable projects, including one big one, but many of those have involved efforts in other countries. The local impact was another factor in buying the debt.
“My first reaction was it seemed like you could have a big impact, then as I explored it more, that's when I kind of began to sort of learn what a big deal this was and how many people this was holding back,” he said.
So far, Hoyt said he hasn't heard from anyone who has had their debt paid because the letters notifying them likely have not reached them.
“The letters should be hitting this week, maybe next week at the latest,” Hoyt said. “So, we haven’t because, to my knowledge, no one has received them yet.”