A sudden medical emergency doesn’t just wreak chaos on a person’s life. For many people, it takes a dangerous toll on their financial security. One in five U.S. residents have delinquent medical debt on their credit reports, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In the Philadelphia region, more than 1.1 million people owe a total of $631 million in delinquent medical debt, data from credit agencies and the federal government shows. And that’s just the amount reported to credit agencies. The total amount could be much higher.

Unpaid medical debt can lead a family to bankruptcy as debt collectors attempt to squeeze out all the assets they can to settle the bill. Often debt collectors buy the right to demand your money at a steep discount. And using that same system, there’s a way to clear a person’s debt for pennies on the dollar.

That’s why NBC10 and Telemundo62 are teaming up with a national not-for-profit agency to erase medical debt.

You also have the chance to pay it forward and help a neighbor erase their debt with a small donation. So far, viewers like yourself have erased $2.03 million in medical debt for people in our area. Small donations really can go a long way!