Veterans Receive Golden 'Tickets' Canceling Their Medical Debt
By Patricia Kime
5 Mar 2019
It sounds crazy and looks like a scam: a golden envelope containing a letter that says part or all of your health care debt has been erased.
But for thousands of veterans and family members, the mailings, which have been going out since 2016, have been the winning ticket for getting out from under a mountain of medical bills.
RIP Medical Debt’s VP of Acquisition, Mikel Burroughs (left), and its Executive Vice President, Jerry Ashton (right). (Facebook/RIP Medical Debt)In the past three years, RIP Medical Debt has quietly erased roughly $65 million worth of medical debt for veterans, family members, National Guard and reserve members, notifying them by mail of the action, according to retired Army Col. Mikel Burroughs, vice president of military and civilian debt acquisition and relief at RIP Medical Debt.
The random acts of kindness are not just reserved for former military service members. Since beginning its mission in 2014, the nonprofit has forgiven about $435 million worth of medical debt for civilians with significant bills who are living at less than twice the poverty level, are insolvent or have more than 5 percent of their gross income going to health care debt.
The idea began when two collections industry executives, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, decided to establish a nonprofit to provide a tax-deductible means for individuals and donors to give money to forgive unpaid medical debt for those in dire need.
RIP Medical Debt works like this: Donors and organizations raise the funds needed to purchase medical debt from the companies that hold it after hospitals, providers, ambulance companies and agencies have exhausted their efforts to collect payment. RIP buys the debt for a penny -- or less -- on the dollar, so if a philanthropist donates $50,000, the non-profit can erase $5 million in debt.
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