FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Nearly 1,000 local families should soon receive a yellow envelope in the mail that will release a significant burden from their shoulders.
Paul Hoyt, a Forsyth County resident and business owner, and his family have eliminated $1.8 million in medical debt for families in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.
Hoyt and his wife, Brandi, have taken on different giving projects in the past, Hoyt said, and he was intrigued upon hearing about nonprofit RIP Medical Debt through his church. The organization works with donors to purchase outstanding medical debt for those struggling or unable to pay medical bills.
“I started researching the organization, and I though it would be an amazing thing to do,” Hoyt said. “Personally, I know some folks who have struggled with [medical debt]. And through this journey with the organization, I just learned how many people are burdened by it.”
According to RIP Medical Debt, two-thirds of all U.S. bankruptcies are tied to medical debt issues and one-quarter of all credit card debt in the country is related to healthcare costs.
Inspired by the cause, Hoyt decided to help those in his backyard. The $1.8 million in eliminated debt includes 998 local families with qualifying debt. That includes those who earn less than twice the federal poverty level, those who have out-of-pocket medical expenses of 5 percent or more of their annual income, or those whose debts are greater than their assets.
The average abolished debt among the recipients of Hoyt’s donation was $1,809.
With the financial devastation brough about by the coronavirus pandemic, the timing of Hoyt’s philanthropy was even more vital.
“I love the serendipity,” Hoyt said. “When I had begun this journey (in 2019), there was no such thing as this coronavirus. And then the buying of the debt was a month into this [pandemic]. From my worldview, it just seems to be heavenly timing to help people in a time when they need it most and give encouragement when people need it most.”
Hoyt is the founder and owner of Connoisseur of Time, an online-based wristwatch company that sells high-end and vintage watches. He thanked his employees for the opportunity to allow him to help others.
“This is very much a result of the hard work of our employees to enable our business to grow so we can do these types of things,” he said.
Hoyt has also funded the building of a well in Haiti, helped start a business to employ women in Kenya to knit sweaters for school uniforms, and he has donated to various Christian organizations.
The letter that should soon inform locals their medical debt has been paid off states the recipient no longer has any obligation to pay their debt and they will not owe any taxes on the cancellation of the debt. It also says “Our forgiveness of this debt is a no-strings-attached gift.”
“I genuinely don’t have an expectation to have people reach out or to be thanked or for people to get in contact with me,” he said. “If anyone does, it will bring joy to our hearts to hear what it did for them.”