PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — News 13 is teaming up with RIP Medical Debt today to erase medical debt in The Panhandle.
RIP Medical Debt is a national non-profit organization that buys and forgives medical debt.
Throughout the day we will be highlighting the problem of medical debt and asking those of you who can, to donate and help the community. One of the best parts of this program is that any donation is worth much more than the initial amount. For instance, just $5 can eliminate $500 in medical debt.
This one-day telethon aims to help thousands of our neighbors at a time when many of us could use a helping hand.
You can donate here.
There is no process for people to apply to have their medical debt forgiven. The debt is picked at random. However, the money raised by News 13 and RIP Medical Debt on Wednesday will go to erase debt in The Panhandle.
“The bills that you see are astronomical,” said Allison Sesso, Executive Director of RIP Medical Debt. “There’s like a trillion dollars of medical debt out there across the country so it shows you how extreme it is.”
The organization uses its knowledge of the debt market to buy large portfolios of medical debt for pennies on the dollar.
“Ten dollars buys you a thousand dollars of medical debt that you can relieve for somebody,” Sesso said.
For many Americans medical debt can destroy their finances and cause other issues.
“It’s up to a half of some people’s take-home, after tax. $600 a month when your take-home pay isn’t even $600 a week, you factor in rent $1,200 a month or so, you’re looking at a pretty bad situation,” said Greg Behan, Lighthouse CPA manager “And that’s just supporting yourself. That’s before the cars, before the kids, before the nanny, etc., etc.”
USA Today cited an analysis by consumer finance company Credit Karma that found that nearly 20 million members in the U.S. have a total of $45 billion of medical debt in collections, or on average, $2,250 in collections per person.
A separate study from Salary Finance reported that 32% of working Americans have outstanding medical debt. Of these people, 54% said they defaulted on it and 23% said they were not confident that they would ever be able to pay it back.
But today you can make a difference.