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NYers' medical debt mysteriously paid

Dec 03, 2018 2:00 pm
Bethany Bump is reporting for the Times Union on RIP Medical Debt, an organization that has eliminated health care debt for nearly 1,300 people in upstate New York. No strings attached. "A lot of people get our letters and think they're too good to be true and throw them out," said Daniel Lempert, a spokesman for RIP Medical Debt. The company buys bundled portfolios of medical debt for pennies on the dollar. "That's why we try to get the word out. In the Capital Region, 146 people had nearly $300,000 worth of old debt wiped out — all because Judith Jones and Carolyn Kenyon, of Ithaca, got the idea to raise money for a good cause. The women are members of the Finger Lakes chapter of the Campaign for New York Health, which advocates for universal health coverage. When they came across RIP Medical Debt they were intrigued. RIP Medical Debt was founded in 2014 by two former debt collection industry executives who teamed up to create a nonprofit that would buy up medical debt incurred by people who are hard-up financially, for the sole purpose of forgiving it. Jones and Kenyon raised $12,500 in four months, which RIP then used to purchase $1.5 million worth of debt. More than 1 in 3 Americans say they struggle to afford the cost of medical care, with 43 million now owing $75 billion in past-due medical debt. And three out of every four people who end up in medical bankruptcy had insurance. Among the strangers who had bills cleared by RIP Medical Debt were seven people from Greene County owing more than $26,000. "We really just want people to be aware of what a terrible problem medical debt is," Lempert said. "And we want recipients of these letters to know this debt is finally off their credit report." Read the full story in the Times Union.
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