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The group which has wiped out $6.7 billion in medical debt

The group which has wiped out $6.7 billion in medical debt

Millions of people in the US are in huge amounts of debt

A company is helping support people with mounting medical bills by buying their debt up for them.

Yes, you read that correctly, it is actually actively taking debt away from people rather than chasing them down for it.

RIP Medical Debt is a non-profit organisation that grew rapidly during the pandemic, at a time when people were struggling to make ends meet.

Set up by two former debt collectors, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, the premise of their business is pretty simple: they track down delinquent hospital bills, which are simply debts incurred by low-income patients, and then they wipe the slate clean.

So far the pair of them have picked up $6.7 billion worth of hospital bills, pulling 3.6 million people back from the brink of bankruptcy.

But while RIP used to rely solely on secondary markets - from private companies - to pick up these debts, new rules mean it is now able to buy them directly from hospitals.

One of those who has benefitted from the company's philanthropy is Logan, who was a high school math teacher in Georgia.

After her daughter was born two months premature, the medical bills started to mount.

A company is buying up people's medical debt.

She told NPR: "I avoided it like the plague. The weight of all of that medical debt — oh man, it was tough.

"Every day, I'm thinking about what I owe, how I'm going to get out of this... especially with the money coming in just not being enough."

Unable to pay them, Logan put them to the side until one day, when she received another kind of letter 13 years after the birth of her daughter. This one informed her that her debt was now clear and she would no longer be hounded for it.

RIP is able to do what it does because of donations from all kinds of people.

For example, Jeff Bezos' ex-wife MacKenzie Scott donated $50 million to the firm back in 2020, which allowed it to grow further and help more people.

However, the rapid expansion of RIP isn't a good thing, according to its CEO Allison Sesso.

She says it shows that there is clearly a flaw in the the system if so many people are in desperate need of their help. According to a study, 20 percent of people in the US who are in medical debt don't ever believe they will pay it off.

But some hospitals are also doing their bit to help those in need.

Some people in the US don't think they will ever pay off their debt.

In January this year, Heywood Healthcare system in Massachusetts donated $800,000 of debt to RIP, relinquishing control.

Speaking at the time, its president and CEO Win Brown said: "The pandemic has further exacerbated the financial strain on many households within our region.

"It is with the intent of lifting some of that burden off our patients, that Heywood Healthcare donated its outstanding qualified medical debt to RIP Medical Debt, and we couldn’t be more pleased."

While Sesso added: "The emotional and financial burden of medical debt has never been more acute than during these trying times.

"We applaud Heywood for being the first hospital to donate their qualifying accounts to us, allowing us to substantially expand our impact."

RIP is now also consulting some hospitals on how to make their systems more efficient, so that they can better spot those who are in need before they get themselves into financial difficulty.

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Featured Image Credit: Graham/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: US News, Health