so we're like a predatory giver
August 12, 2019 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Former Collection Agency Executives Start Charity To Buy And Forgive Medical Debt - Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, founders of RIP Medical Debt, decided to use their expertise to forgive medical debt instead of collecting it. So far, their company has abolished hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. They want to reach a billion by 2020.
posted by rude.boy (19 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
To be clear: good for them but this isn’t a solution to the problem.

As i’m sure they know better than most.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:26 PM on August 12, 2019 [14 favorites]

If you read to the end it looks like they're acknowledging that and working with others towards understanding the problem better.
posted by pipeski at 3:32 PM on August 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

It's not a solution for the whole problem but it sure is for the lucky folks whose debt they buy and forgive.
posted by egypturnash at 3:33 PM on August 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

feeding a hungry child doesn't solve starvation either, but .. you know... um humanity.
posted by French Fry at 3:37 PM on August 12, 2019 [44 favorites]

And people don't know that when you go to a hospital, usually there is a financial assistance policy that actually will give the cost of that care for free if you make less than two times the poverty level, which actually is about 33% of this whole population.

Wait, what?
posted by BeginAgain at 4:06 PM on August 12, 2019 [14 favorites]

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
posted by automatronic at 4:33 PM on August 12, 2019 [60 favorites]

California counties have MISP for the gap between the Medicaid expansion and people well above poverty.

MISP pre-existed PPACA.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 4:41 PM on August 12, 2019


In ohio, if your income is below the FPG (federal poverty guideline), you can theoretically qualify for "basic, medically necessary" services to be free. In addition to that, the 'local' hospital that we just received a bill for states that they have their own assistance program as well.

My cynical self thinks there's a lot of exceptions to this (and one exception is even cited in Ohio's that it strictly only covers hospital charges so radiologists, x-rays aren't covered) but I suppose it's worth looking for.
posted by fizzix at 4:54 PM on August 12, 2019

As seen on "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."
posted by Marky at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cool, where can I send the 24k bill I got yesterday for the mysterious fist-sized lump they found in my wife (the one they didn't fix or even diagnose)?
posted by captain afab at 5:10 PM on August 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

From the link:
Everyone wants to see that somebody else pays the bill. So we're just sweeping up after the parade. We know that. We know that our work is very very important, but it takes care of the people that are wounded and on the battlefield. We really do need to stop the wars, but at this moment, that's not where we're positioned.”
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 6:18 PM on August 12, 2019 [10 favorites]

Yeah, messed up that we can easily characterize the US healthcare system as committing financial warfare on patients

FIRE economy, y all
posted by eustatic at 7:07 PM on August 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Wait, what?

Yes. Example policy from Advocate Illinois Masonic (Chicago) -- but your income has to be fairly low to qualify for free care, 200% of the poverty line ($2000/mo for a single person, more for larger households). From there there is some relief on a sliding scale.

Safety-net hospitals are required to offer this but they make it as difficult as possible to find the info on their sites, naturally. Nevertheless people should always call the hospital billing department to request information on financial assistance programs, if they can't find the policy online.

Helping people out by knowing little tricks like this was my very favorite part of being a healthcare navigator.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:08 PM on August 12, 2019 [10 favorites]

I went to the ER with food poisoning when I first moved to WA and had no job yet. The receptionist offered me paperwork for charitable exemption application, but my brother paid with his credit card (it was a $700 bill, 18 yrs ago so not tiny but manageable for him).

I've always meant to look back into that.
posted by taterpie at 9:41 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

So hospital programs for forgiveness vary wildly across the board, also they aren't nessicarily easy to qualify for and in some cases that tell you they're going to forgive it and bill you anyway (ask me how I got sued to pay for my charity care, in which the hospital lawyer came up said i qualified for charity care and the case got thrown out, but only because i dragged myself to the courthouse and got a probono laywer and I'm a social worker and good at these things)

Some hospital systems have well established programs and others don't and it's at the will of the hospital. In some cases, hospitals budget a amount per year and after it is met all other cases are denied, so getting sick in the beginning of the fiscal year (Or at the end depending on the program) could be beneficial. Charity care can be a tax write off for hospital systems. It's not well known, well advertized or consistent and physicians billing is likely different.

Medicaid (at least in IL can be. retroactive up to 90 days) and it's worth applying for after a sudden hospital visit.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:03 PM on August 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

Because we want to make sure that we're abolishing debt for people that are actually deserving.

Everyone is deserving. Everyone.

No one should have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for health care.

Not even Dave Wichmann.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:53 AM on August 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am sitting here thinking about my own medical bills and the way every procedure spawns bills from multiple entities even though it's all the same treatment.

I suspect anyone who gets a large bill forgiven, still has a bunch of other bills in different stages of collections. So it's not complete relief, just partial. And I bet that getting relieved of one portion of the debt, makes the rest of the outstanding debts more valuable, because it reduces competition. If there's a pound of flesh to be taken, a debt collector is still poised to take it.
posted by elizilla at 8:10 AM on August 13, 2019

And I bet that getting relieved of one portion of the debt, makes the rest of the outstanding debts more valuable, because it reduces competition. If there's a pound of flesh to be taken, a debt collector is still poised to take it

These guys do not coordinate. They buy the debt for pennies and their ultimate goal is to spend zero money doing the collections. Even keeping accurate records is too expensive for them to invest in.
posted by praemunire at 8:22 AM on August 13, 2019

As seen on "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."

That's exactly what came to my mind.
I hope these people (on LWT) actually found out that the debt was forgiven.
posted by M. at 8:26 AM on August 13, 2019

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