KOKOMO — A Kokomo woman had thousands of dollars in medical debt wiped away, and now she's passing on a lesson to her kids.
Lacy Rudolph was one of 72 million Americans struggling to pay off medical debt.
"I have been self employed for 16 years I'm a hair stylist and about 11 of those years, I didn't have insurance," Rudolph said.
So when she needed medical care for something she couldn't ignore, the bills piled up, as they do for many Americans. Medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy.
"It was actually a bad kidney stone. MRIs and CT cans and all that add up," Rudolph said. "If anybody's ever had kidney stones they say it can be worse than giving birth it's horrendous. In the moment you don't care about any costs because you have to get checked out for the pain."
Sometimes, it just isn't easy to get ahead when you're saddled with medical debt.
"It's hard," she said. "You're paying bills. Small kids, single mom here," she said.
Rudolph attends Fuel Church in Kokomo. She knew leadership at the church was organizing a medical debt relief payout and she never thought she would be selected, but one day in the mail ...
"There was a letter and I open it up and it was almost 35 hundred dollars abolished from an old medical bill that was in collections," Rudolph said. "Thought it was amazing, and it didn't surprise me because they give back a lot."
Now Rudolph is teaching her kids about how to stay ahead of debt, how to save and how to live their faith in action.
"About your credit score and about not living above your means," she said. "Put five dollars back a week and it might take you longer to get something, but you still can get it. I am really big on tithing. I do believe that when you sow a seed that it will come back."
And that's something that's important at Fuel Church.
"I just and I'm sure they know. Love, love, love my church," Rudolph said.
If you're struggling with medical debt, you have a few options. You can set up payment plans to pay off your bills, consider a medical credit card or reach out to a medical bill advocate, a professional who can help negotiate and find any billing errors. And if your bills are already in collections, you might be able to negotiate a lower payment.