January 23, 2020

Markets & Free Enterprise

How One Small Donation Can Wipe Out Thousands in Medical Debt

By: Jordan Roberts

Can you imagine wiping out $10,000 worth of old medical debt with a $100 donation? That is the fantastic return on investment that the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt can offer to those who donate to them. 

Here is the way it works: RIP Medical Debt sponsors campaigns all around the country to help raise money and purchase old medical debt off the secondary debt market. Individuals raise money and hand it over to RIP Medical Debt, who then takes that money and purchases portfolios of old medical debt that is owed by low-income individuals. Once the debt is purchased, the person who owed that debt receives a letter in the mail letting them know that a stranger donated money to a campaign that helped eliminate their old medical debt. The debt is wiped clean penalty-free, and that individual gets to move on from a lingering medical bill. 

One acquires medical debt in numerous ways. Individuals without insurance may go to the emergency room only to be presented with a massive bill for using the facility’s resources. In other cases, an insured individual may have a procedure completed under the assumption that it will be fully covered by insurance, only to have a surprise bill show up later from an out-of-network physician. Regardless of how debt is created, it is often through no fault of the patients. Our healthcare system is full of ways that an unsuspecting bill can arise. 

I’m sure those of you reading this blog either have experienced this or know someone who has been slapped with a surprise bill. Some of us are more fortunate than others and can take care of the cost of treatment or a surprise bill. However, our healthcare system is costly, and for those without insurance or those with modest incomes, a huge medical bill can cripple a family’s finances.

Luckily for those individuals, RIP Medical Debt has found a solution to help those who need it the most. For an individual’s debt to qualify for relief from RIP Medical Debt, the individual would have to meet three criteria: earn less than two times the federal poverty level, owe debts that are 5 percent or more of annual income, and owe debts that are greater than total assets. What this means is that the individuals who would qualify for debt relief from RIP Medical Debt are the ones who need help the most. 

Numerous successful campaigns have helped wipe out more than $450 million in medical debt for over 250,000 individuals. Given the way our healthcare system operates, there will be much more medical debt as individuals fall victim to the practice of surprise billing or outrageous charges for medical care. You can get involved by visiting the RIP Medical Debt website and either join an ongoing campaign or start your own! 

Editor’s Note: AF-Raleigh is matching donations to RIP Medical Debt up to $500. To donate, enter the promo code NCDEBTFREE here to purchase an “AF RSVP” ticket, and be sure to join us for the fundraiser reception in Raleigh’s HQ Capital Club on Feb. 7! (Donations must be $20 or more to attend the reception.)