Over the last two months, NBC 5 has been dedicated to taking on the Medical Debt Crisis in North Texas.
Our viewers are now contributing, making donations to help people who are struggling to pay off their medical bills.
It’s an epidemic that has left many households and families in financial ruin. But with each donation, our viewers have provided support for people like Reagen Adair.
During her high school years, Adair was living life to the fullest. But as she entered her senior year, she realized something was holding her back.
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"The lights would bother me. I would get a headache and it would hang on," she explained.
Over the years, her headaches gradually developed into intense migraines.
Between emergency room and repeated doctor visits, Adair, now a 5th grade teacher in Athens, found herself struggling to pay off her medical bills.
"I feel like I’m backed into a corner," Adair said. "It really does feel never ending because you don’t feel you’re making a dent."
Never did she think her migraines would develop into nearly $10,000 in medical debt, but they did.
On top of that, her son suffers from asthma and scoliosis.
Adair said she pays what she can, but it never seems to be enough.
"This has got to be the most embarrassing thing to have to go through. It really is. Having debt is not easy. But I know in my right mind I can’t be the only one," said Adair.
She’s one of 64 million Americans struggling to pay off their medical debt.
That’s why NBC-owned stations partnered with the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to allow viewers to pay it forward and help their fellow North Texans who need a lifeline.
Adair heard about this initiative, but that was the last thing on her mind when she went to check her mail.
"Low and behold, there was a yellow envelope," she said. "I went, 'No, this has got to be a joke.'"
When she opened the envelope, she realized it was very real. She learned that an old bill with a balance of $3,181 was now at a balance of $0.
The bill came from a nearby medical center that was treating her migraines.
"I couldn’t believe that was going to be erased from my debt. That’s something I had been working on, so that was a major miracle for us," the teacher said.
She said she's read the letter more times than she can count, but can’t help but ask herself, 'Why me?'
"I was blessed. That’s all there is," she said.
It’s a burden that’s been lifted from her shoulders and one less headache she has to worry about.
Adair said she’s so grateful to the viewers who donated to this cause. Without you, she said she isn’t sure what would have happened with that outstanding bill.
Adair plans to make a $10 donation, which will help eliminate $1,000 in medical debt for someone in our area.
So far, our viewers have donated enough to eliminate more than $16 million in medical debt.