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HomeAt Home & BeyondBrijbag Family Foundation Abolishes $1.6M in Medical Debt for Local Families

Brijbag Family Foundation Abolishes $1.6M in Medical Debt for Local Families

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Four in 10 adults struggle with healthcare costs. In an effort to aid local families struggling with medical debt, the Brijbag Family Foundation heralded the 2023 holiday season by abolishing $1.6 million worth of medical bills on behalf of more than 1600 people.

Brian Brijbag, a lawyer in Spring Hill, and his wife Stephanie, a staff member of Hernando County Schools, founded this foundation as a 501C3 organization.

“We wanted to do this for our neighbors,” said Brian Brijbag. “We come from here, we live here, and I coach kids’ sports teams here. We wanted to help locally.”

This marks the second major project for this newly minted help foundation, with their inaugural endeavor—inspired by Stephanie Brijbag’s work with special needs students—involving the building and placement of sensory rooms throughout Hernando County schools.

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Similarly, the debt repayment project was a highly personal one for Brian Brijbag, a personal injury lawyer. “I’ve had clients talk about the burden of medical debt,” he said. “So I did some research.”
According to Brijbag’s research, people who are struggling with medical debt can occasionally fall into poverty and bankruptcy, and the anxiety that comes with it may actually make their health worse. He feels, moreover, that it is particularly important to assist people with this variety of accrued debt.
“This is a debt of necessity,” he explained. “If someone gets a credit card and charges a bunch of TVs they can’t afford, that’s their fault. But no one plans to get sick or to get into an accident.”
This also proves a personal cause for Stephanie Brijbag, whose mother passed away when Stephanie was 16.

“My father struggled with medical costs,” she said. “We are pleased to help the community with this problem.”

In response to this issue, the couple launched an initiative known as Project Jubilee. “Jubilee is a Biblical term that refers to a time to renew, refresh, or reset,” said Brian Brijbag.

They referred to RIP Medical Debt, a medical debt resource organization, to locate Hernando, Pasco, and Citrus residents whose level of poverty makes it difficult for them to cover their medical debt. Just in time for the holidays, more than 1600 people identified through this inquiry received letters notifying them that their medical debt had been forgiven. “I’ve heard from some of those that were helped,” he said.

In the future, the Brijbags hope to hear from other firms, companies and organizations that wish to join their effort to relieve many more people of medical debt.

“Let’s aim for five million next time,” he said. “Local helps local.”

To help support future Project Jubilee efforts, contact (352) 358-5880 or https://www.facebook.com/BrijbagLaw.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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