The posthumous appeal of an American woman who died of cancer has raised enough money in less than a week to erase millions of dollars in medical debt.
Casey McIntyre told her followers in a social media post posted by her husband that she arranged to pay bills owed by others as a way to celebrate his life.
Although she had good health insurance coverage, the New York couple saw “terrifying” paperwork costs for her care and wanted to help those who were struggling with heavy burdens.
Writing on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Ms McIntrye said: “If you’re reading this, I’m dead.”
She added: “I loved each and every one of you with all my heart and I promise you, I knew how deeply loved I was.
“To celebrate my life, I arranged to purchase other people’s medical debt and then destroy the debt.”
The messages included a link to a fundraising campaign launched through the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt.
Ms McIntyre’s husband, Andrew Rose Gregory, posted the messages on Tuesday following her death on Sunday, and the campaign quickly surpassed its $20,000 (£16,000) target and is now over $170,000 (£136,000), or enough to buy around $17 million (£136,000). 13.6 million) in medical debt.
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Mr Gregory said: “What resonated for me and Casey was that, you know, there are good cancer treatments that people can’t afford.
“Instead of dreaming of a cure for cancer, what if we could just help people burdened by medical debt?”
Patients in the U.S. healthcare system can quickly rack up large bills that push them into debt even if they have insurance.
This is especially true for people who need hospital treatment, regular care, or prescriptions for chronic health conditions.
A 2022 analysis of government data from the nonprofit KFF estimates that nearly one in 10 American adults owe at least $250 (£200) in medical debt.
Of those 23 million people, around 11 million owe more than $2,000 (£1,600).
RIP Medical Debt erases debt purchased from hospitals, other healthcare providers and the secondary debt market.
He buys millions of dollars of debt in batches for what he says is a fraction of the original value.
The group says every dollar donated buys around $100 (£80) of debt and aims to help people on low incomes.
Spokesman Daniel Lempert said the organization has never run a campaign where anyone considered launching it after his death.
Ms 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 couple began planning her memorial and debt relief campaign after she nearly died in May.
They were inspired by a video they saw showing churchgoers in North Carolina burning through an estimated $3 million (£2.4 million) in medical debt.
Ms McIntyre has spent the past five months in hospice care at home, giving her what Mr Gregory called a “bonus summer”.
She went on trips to the beach and spent time with their family, including the couple’s 18-month-old daughter Grace.
He said: “Casey was very, very ill at the end of her life and she couldn’t finish everything she wanted to finish.
“But I knew she wanted to do this memorial and this debt jubilee. So I organized that and… I did it the way I thought she would have wanted it.”