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$110 million in medical debt relief announced by Sachin H. Jain
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$110 million in medical debt relief announced by Sachin H. Jain

Dr. Sachin H. Jain announced that his SCAN Group and CareOregon have jointly issued grants to RIP Medical Debt that will wipe out millions in patients’ medical debt.

The two nonprofit insurers, which are in the midst of merging, will together donate $345,000 to the organization, funding debt relief for 67,000 people across Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Texas, where the health plans operate, according to an announcement issued recently.

The grant will abolish $110 million in medical debt, and all of the beneficiaries have incomes that are at or below 400% of the federal poverty level, or their debt represents 5% or more of their household income.

“I think just too many people are being bankrupted or placed into medical debt by a healthcare system that is increasingly focused on sustaining itself at literally any cost,” Sachin Jain, M.D., CEO of SCAN, announced.

As healthcare costs rise, so too has medical debt grown as a major public health issue in the U.S. The announcement cited a KFF analysis that estimated 100 million Americans have medical debt, with Black and Hispanic patients more likely than white patients to have such debt.

Many patients also skip medical care because of the cost. Last year, 44% of Americans skipped a visit to the doctor when they were ill or injured because of the cost, according to the announcement.

Jain said that insurers have a duty to assist patients and members who are struggling with cost but also to strive to offer more products that make care more affordable for them.

“We also have a secondary obligation of not creating as much debt in the first place,” he said.

In the announcement, the insurers said they’re the first health plans in the country to directly fund relief for medical debt. Other payers have matched employee donations to such efforts, the partners said.

Jain said that SCAN and CareOregon are hopeful this first step could inspire others in the industry, including payers with a large national footprint, to launch similar initiatives.

“We believe that part of our mandate is to inspire the industry to do the right thing,” he said.

Born in New York City and raised in Alpine, New Jersey, Jain attended high school at the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (now part of the Bergen Academies) where he founded the debate team and the Bergen County Leaders Forum and served internships at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; the Office of the Bergen County Executive; and the Bergen County Department of Health Services. He was also a Governor’s Scholar on Public Issues and the Future of New Jersey.

Jain received his undergraduate degree with high honors in government from Harvard College; his medical degree (MD) from Harvard Medical School; and his master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School. At Harvard College, he was mentored by health care quality guru Donald Berwick and studied under Christopher Winship, Robert Putnam, Deborah Stone, and William Julius Wilson.

At Harvard Medical School, he was president of his class and awarded the Henry Asbury Christian Award for research excellence. He and classmate Kiran Kakarala were advised by health policy department chair Barbara McNeil and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant support from the Commonwealth Fund to build ImproveHealthCare, an initiative to drive incorporation of healthcare policy into medical school curricula that scaled to 17 US medical schools.

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