Secret Santas: Charity Buys and Erases Past-Due Medical Debt

Rare | 12/26/2018 | Associated Press
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Philip Sasser had a familiar, sinking feeling when he saw the yellow envelope in his mailbox. He figured it was another past-due medical bill, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. “I opened it up and it said these bills had been paid off,” said Sasser, of Milton, Florida. “I didn’t understand. It was out of the blue.”

Sasser is among the lucky recipients of a letter from RIP Medical Debt, a Rye, New York-based nonprofit that uses money from donors to eliminate crushing medical debt that threatens the financial well-being of hundreds of thousands of American families. The charity says it has erased $475 million in debt for more than 250,000 people since it was founded four years ago.

Act - Kindness - Gift - Craig - Antico

“It’s a random act of kindness, a no-strings-attached gift,” said Craig Antico, RIP’s co-founder and CEO. Antico and RIP co-founder Jerry Ashton spent decades as executives in the debt resolution business. Now they do the same thing debt collectors do — buy portfolios of past-due bills for pennies on the dollar. But instead of hounding people for payment, they send letters announcing their debt is now zero. Forgiven debts have ranged from $100 to over $250,000, Antico said.

A $10 donation can buy — and eliminate — $1,000 in long-delinquent debt. “You get a lot of bang for your charity buck,” said Judith Jones of Ithaca, New York. She and Carolyn Kenyon, members of a group advocating universal health coverage, raised $12,500 that RIP Medical Debt used to purchase a portfolio of $1.5 million in debts owed by 1,284 people.

Americans - Debt - Credit - Reports - Antico

More than 43 million Americans have about $75 billion in past-due medical debt on their credit reports, according to Antico, Ashton and co-author Robert Goff’s book, “End Medical Debt.” They estimate a total of $1 trillion in reported...
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