An estimated 41% of American adults, around 100 million people, currently live with health-care related debt. Further, a quarter of American adults with medical debt owe over $5,000, and 1-in-5 say they do not expect to ever be able to pay off their debt.
As so many people struggle to pay off their hospital bills, one group is leading the charge to help Americans nationwide pay off their medical debt.
RIP Medical Debt, founded by former debt collectors Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, works to free patients of medical debt by buying bundles of delinquent hospital bills so that those in debt no longer need to pay them.
The nonprofit buys debts just as any other collection company would, but then sends consumers notices that their debt has been cleared, rather than profit off them.
As of August 2022, RIP Medical Debt has purchased over $6.7 billion in unpaid medical debt, relieving over 3.6 million people.
New regulations allow RIP to buy loans from hospitals directly, allowing them to expand their relief. They say that it costs an average of $1 for them to pay off $100 in debt.
Recent surges in donations have allowed RIP to expand. They have been able to hire new staff and develop software to identify targeted debt much faster.
In October, RIP Medical Debt received its third-largest donation ever from Stacey Abrams' Georgia-based organization, Fair Fight, which bought up $212 million in medical debt across the South to relieve the medical debt of some 108,000 families. Fair Fight's donation paid off medical debt for residents of Georgia, Arizona, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.
Some hospitals are also helping alleviate the cycle of debt for their patients. In January, Heywood Healthcare system in Massachusetts donated $800,000 of medical debt to RIP to help their struggling patients. Many patients were avoiding treatment due to their inability to pay their hospital bills.
RIP has recently started taking preventative actions to help Americans from incurring medical debt in the first place. They are advising hospitals on ways they can better their internal financial systems and help prevent patients from incurring debt in the first place.