If you’ve ever been to the emergency room, you know the cost of a single visit can leave you feeling worse than before you got there. Medical debt is a huge problem - one in five Americans have it.
Simply put, it’s the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States. That’s why NBC10 Boston, necn and Telemundo Boston have decided to do something to help address it.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
HOW IS NBC10 BOSTON ERASING PEOPLE'S MEDICAL DEBT?
If you challenge a hospital bill for $10,000, the hospital might sell that debt to a collector at a discount, leaving the collector to come after you for the money.
But over time, collectors sell on debt to other collectors, paying less and less each time. Eventually, the debt can be bought for pennies on the dollar.
That's where a unique not-for-profit steps in. RIP Medical Debt uses charitable donations to buy batches of medical debt for a fraction of face value and then cancel it.
Now, the NBC Universal Owned Television Stations Group, which owns NBC10 Boston, necn and Telemundo Boston, is making a $150,000 donation to RIP Medical Debt, which will let them retire $15 million in debt.
RIP does have some criteria - they look for people who are at double the federal poverty level or below, or who owe more than they own, or who are otherwise in some kind of hardship. (As RIP buys the debt without knowing who the debtors are, it's not possible to sign up or to request your specific debt be relieved.)
Those who get their debt relieved will receive a yellow envelope from RIP Medical Debt in the mail letting them know that the specified debt (but not necessarily all of their debt) is gone.
HOW DO I KNOW THIS IS LEGIT?
We're working with RIP Medical Debt, a national 501(c)(3) charity, which has purchased and forgiven nearly $50 million in personal medical debt since the organization's inception in 2014.
THIS SOUNDS GREAT! HOW CAN I SIGN UP TO HAVE MY DEBT ERASED?
Currently, RIP Medical Debt doesn't have a database or waiting list to request help. The organization focuses its everyday efforts nationally on people living on average two-times below the poverty line. You can read more about their processes by clicking here.
If you are one of the many people in the Boston area who have medical debt in collections, there are resources available to help you navigate the stormy waters. These organizations do not erase debt, but can provide better financial planning to help you navigate to a healthy financial future. Here's a list:
HOW YOU CAN HELP ERASE SOMEONE'S DEBT RIGHT NOW
A small donation can help remove thousands of dollars of medical debt for a person in need. Below you can sign up to make a donation to RIP Medical Debt.
Simply fill out the form below and hit Enter Payment. A secure dialog box will appear for you to provide credit card information.
RIP Medical Debt is the organization collecting donations, identifying those in need, and forgiving the debt. NBC10 Boston, necn and Telemundo Boston are not collecting or receiving any information provided in the fields below. This goes directly to the charity.
If you don't see the form, click here.