At RIP Medical Debt we have one focus – buying up and abolishing the crushing medical debts of families across the United States. Our method is simple. We raise funds from generous donors in large and small amounts, combine them and purchase large portfolios of medical debt for pennies on the dollar; $100 of donated funds can abolish $10,000 of medical debt.
At this time of extreme uncertainty, the RIP team was determined to leverage our mission for this moment. So, we launched the Helping COVID Heroes Fund, a medical debt relief fund focusing on healthcare workers and emergency responders first.
You have read stories from the front lines: Doctors and nurses working long shifts with little personal protection from the deadly virus they are treating; social workers and home health aides continuing to make long drives for poor wages in order to provide care and support for our elderly and infirm. All of this is physically demanding work that cannot conform to social distancing recommendations, resulting in substantial personal risk.
We are all indebted to this heroic workforce and wanted to find a concrete way to show them we have their back. We have already identified more than $80 million in unpaid, unpayable medical debt belonging to individuals with professional licenses or union memberships tied to healthcare and emergency responder roles and we are on our way to eliminating it.
While healthcare workers are exposing their health and well-being daily as critical care providers, they aren’t the only ones making profound personal sacrifices in our global fight against this novel coronavirus. All of us are staying home to contain the spread which has had devastating economic impacts, with distinctively severe results in the United States stemming from our employer-sponsored system of health insurance. Families in the U.S. lose their income and health insurance when they lose their jobs. The economy is shedding jobs at a nauseating rate, leaving many without health insurance or income, while a highly contagious and deadly virus is spreading through our communities. That is why RIP Medical Debt is helping the workers from the service tier of our economy as well.
For families with no income or insurance, paying medical debt is not only impossible – it would be irresponsible – with so many other survival needs to cover. That is why our Helping COVID Heroes Fund will also provide debt relief for families dealing with the effects of unemployment and reduced income with the greatest focus on those areas hit hardest.
While we can’t buy and relieve COVID-19 related healthcare debt yet, it is critically important to remove all medical debt from the backs, and credit reports, of those with the most exposure to this virus (healthcare workers, emergency responders) and those who’ve lost their economic stability. RIP Medical Debt will, of course, gladly purchase and relieve COVID specific debt when it becomes available. For now, however, we are focused on removing the pre-COVID debt burdens of those sacrificing the most at this moment.
In fact, we encourage hospitals and other health care providers to sell us their uncollectable medical debts. We are actively seeking to obtain additional debt and welcome provider inquiries regarding the sale of their debt to us for the purpose of abolishment.
RIP Medical Debt is proud to have adapted our work in response to this unprecedented global pandemic. We are determined to relieve the debts belonging to the heroes of this moment and to remove the debt burdens of those hardest hit. While the world has changed dramatically, it has not fundamentally changed us. Our sense of community and goodwill continues and has only become stronger.
Allison Sesso is Executive Director at RIP Medical Debt.