US cancer patient's dying wish erases $16m in people's medical debt

By Madeline HalpertBBC News, New York
Instagram/ McIntyre family Casey McIntyre and husband and daughterInstagram/ McIntyre family
Casey McIntyre wrote: "if you're reading this I have passed away"

A New York City woman who died of ovarian cancer has raised enough money to pay off millions of dollars in other people's medical debts.

In a social media post she arranged to be posted after her death, Casey McIntyre, 38, asked followers to consider donating to her cause.

She said she planned to pay off other people's medical debt as a way of celebrating her life.

She wrote on social media: "if you're reading this I have passed away."

"I loved each and every one of you with my whole heart and I promise you, I knew how deeply I was loved... to celebrate my life, I've arranged to buy up others' medical debt and then destroy the debt."

She added that she was lucky to have access to high-quality medical care while battling stage four ovarian cancer and wanted others to have the same.

As of Saturday, McIntyre and her family had raised over $170,000 (£136,000) for her campaign with non-profit RIP Medical Debt. The organisation pays off a dollar of medical debt for every penny that is donated, meaning McIntyre's campaign has helped erase up to $17m in unpaid medical bills.

The organisation says it buys medical debt "in bundled portfolios, millions of dollars at a time at a fraction of the original cost".

"On average, whatever you donate has 100x the impact," it says on its website.

As many as 100 million Americans struggle with medical debt, according to estimates from health research non-profit KFF.

Instagram/ McIntyre family The McIntyre couple smilingInstagram/ McIntyre family

In the social media post announcing her own death, McIntyre's family included a note that they would have a memorial service and "debt jubilee" in New York City's Prospect Park in December, where they would celebrate her life by anonymously purchasing and forgiving other's medical debt.

McIntyre, a book publisher, started treatment for ovarian cancer in 2019 and passed away on Sunday. She is survived by her husband and 18-month-old daughter.

According to her post, she spent the last five months of her life in hospice care with friends and family in Virginia, Rhode Island and New York, moments she called "magical".

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, her husband Andrew Rose Gregory said: "Casey. We love you, we miss you, you are gone, you are with us, we will be looking for you everywhere <3".