This week's episode of the "First Opinion Podcast" explores the issue of medical debt, which burdens as many as 40% of U.S. adults. They collectively owe more than a whopping $200 billion. Many organizations and even federal and state governments have established debt relief programs to tackle the problem. Such programs make intuitive sense. But they may not work and, in some cases, could even harm the mental health of some individuals on the receiving end. That's the surprising takeaway from a study that Katherine Hempstead, a senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, wrote about in a First Opinion essay and talked about with STAT's Pat Skerrett on the podcast. They were joined by Allison Sesso, the CEO of Undue Medical Debt, a national nonprofit organization that helped sponsor the study.

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