An estimated 530,000 American families file for bankruptcy each year due to medical issues, including huge bills and loss of income.
Nonprofit RIP Medical Debt is trying to bring an end to that.
The organization has wiped out more than $7 billion in medical debt by purchasing it for pennies on the dollar and then simply forgiving what is owed.
Eva Stahl, the organization’s Vice President of Policy, discussed the program and the former patients helped by it.
Stahl says the organization was started by two debt collectors who decided to leverage the system in a way that helps those struggling with loads of medical debt.
“If you think about it, earlier this year there was a survey that said almost 100 million nationwide struggle with medical debt,” Stahl said. “It’s important to understand that medical debt is an ‘everyone issue,’ but if you peel back the layers a little bit and look at the data, it doesn’t affect everyone equally.”
Medical debt disproportionately affects low-income families, particularly those in Black and minority households, Stahl said. Those with chronic health issues are also more adversely impacted by medical debt.
RIP Medical Debt purchases portfolios of medical debt on a secondary marketplace for cheap and then works to forgive the debt. The organization has even begun partnering with hospitals and medical providers to purchase the debt directly. The debt is paid for by funds raised and donated to the organization.
There is no way to specifically request that your debt is forgiven, Stahl said, but those who are fortunate enough to have their debt taken care of will receive a notice in the mail.
The organization encourages people to get involved and help those in need and say your small donations can make a big impact.
“What’s so exciting about our model, is that a $1 contribution abolishes $100 worth of medical debt,” Stahl said. “If you think about that kind of return on investment, then anyone can be a philanthropist. All you have to do is get a few friends together and you can abolish tons of medical debt and change people’s lives.”
For more information about RIP Medical Debt, click here.