Here’s How to Relieve Someone’s Medical Debt








One of the clearest signs that the United States has a wholly inadequate health care system is the large number of Americans devastated by medical debt. Seventy-nine million American adults actively owe moneyon medical bills, and more than half of the people who file for bankruptcy in this country do so over medical debt.
Ideally, the U.S. would follow the lead of so many other prosperous nations and make medical coverage a right, thereby sparing people from lifelong financial hardship just because they happened to get sick or injured and couldn’t afford to pay their wildly unaffordable bills. However, the current system is far from ideal, so what do we do to alleviate the problems in the meantime?
RIP Medical Debt is doing its darnedest to help people overwhelmed by hospital bills stay afloat. The charity buys up medical debt from institutions in the same way that any debt collecting agency might – but instead of proceeding to hound the debtors with threatening phone calls, they simply forgive the debts.


Because companies are able to purchase medical debt for such a small fraction of what the debt is worth – often for just a penny or less on the dollar – it’s an especially effective tactic. RIP Medical Debt has been able to wipe out over half a million in medical debt for roughly 60,000 Americans without spending anywhere close to that amount.
The New York Times recently did a story on two women from Ithaca, New York who raised $12,500 on behalf of RIP Medical Debt and successfully eliminated $1.5 million in debts.
All of this begs an obvious question: If medical companies are willing to part with the debt their owed for that cheap, why don’t they offer it to the patients at that rate? Because that’s not how this evil, for-profit system works, unfortunately! However, so long as the system can be exploited, we ought to be mutually snatching up debt to let Americans off the hook.
There are some catches: when purchasing debt in this manner, you can’t buy specific debt. In fact, you don’t find out who owes the money until after paying for it. As such, the benefactors of this charity are pretty much random.
RIP Medical Debt does take some steps to ensure that people in need are the ones benefiting. It specifically looks to forgive the debts of people whose debts are greater than their assets and that have income less than twice the federal poverty level. Generally speaking, though, if these debts are going to a collection agency, it’s because the debtors are struggling to pay.
The charity’s founders, Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico are former debt collectors themselves who were inspired by an old Occupy Wall Street movement the Rolling Jubilee that similarly bought up and forgave old debts. Ashton and Antico recognized how much more fulfilling it is to eliminate debt rather than to harass people for owed money and decided to engage in this on their own.
You can donate to RIP Medical Debt here in order to help get sick people out of debt that’s hardly their fault. With Americans facing an estimated $1 trillion in debt, it’s not as if this charity will be able to fix the problem singlehandedly, but it will make a huge difference in the lives of people who randomly have their debt purchased.