RIP Medical Debt: Frequently Asked Questions & Resources

Haggling for healthcare
    HOW IS FOX59 ERASING HOOSIERS MEDICAL DEBT?

Hospitals and other healthcare provides often sell uncollected medical debt to collectors at a heavy discount in an effort to recoup at least some revenue from an unpaid bill. That debt collector will then demand that the patient pay the full bill plus interest and fees. A single person’s bill could be sold several times to different debt collectors until the statute of limitations runs out.

But those unpaid medical bills can leave behind a financial disaster — destroying a person’s credit and driving many into bankruptcy.

Medical debt can be forgiven immediately, however.

So FOX59 teamed up with the nonprofit organization RIP Medical Debt to purchase and forgive delinquent medical payments on behalf of people living in Central Indiana.

We are forgiving up to $1.5 million in medical debt. We’re also encouraging our viewers to donate as well to make an even greater impact.

    HOW DO I KNOW THIS IS LEGIT?

FOX59 is working with RIP Medical Debt, a national 501(c)(3) charity, which has purchased and forgiven nearly $50 million in personal medical debt since the organization’s inception in 2014.

    THIS SOUNDS GREAT! HOW CAN I SIGN UP TO HAVE MY DEBT ERASED?

Currently, RIP Medical Debt doesn’t have a database or waiting list to request help. The organization focuses its everyday efforts nationally on people living on average two-times below the poverty line. You can read more about their processes here: https://www.ripmedicaldebt.org/get-help/#getHelp

If you are one of the nearly 680,000 Hoosiers in Central Indiana who have medical debt in collections, there are resources available to help you navigate the stormy waters. These organizations do not erase debt, but can help you navigate to a healthy financial future.

Here’s a list:

The Advo Connection Directory
Professional health advocates that might be able to help.
https://advoconnection.com/about-us/
Find free and low-cost assistance from a list of non-profit organizations to assist you.
https://advoconnection.com/non-profit-organizations/

Health Well Foundation
Helps assists patients in covering co-payments, health care premiums and some deductibles.
https://www.healthwellfoundation.org/

For-Profit Advocates
Adria Gross: https://adriagross.com/
MedWise Insurance Advocacy: http://www.medicalinsuranceadvocacy.com/

Federal Government Resources:
Federal Trade Commission – Debt Collections FAQ: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs
USA.gov – Dealing with Debt: https://www.usa.gov/debt

    HOW CAN YOU HELP ERASE SOMEONE’S DEBT RIGHT NOW?

A small donation can help remove thousands of dollars of medical debt for a person in need.

Here’s how you can sign up to make a donation to RIP Medical Debt.

CLICK HERE to simply fill out the donation form and hit Enter Payment. A secure dialog box will appear for you to provide credit card information.

RIP Medical Debt is the organization collecting donations, identifying those in need, and forgiving the debt. FOX59 is not collecting or receiving any information provided, it all goes directly to the charity.

    ANSWERS TO OTHER COMMON QUESTIONS…

How is medical debt purchased?
Medical debt is purchased when providers like hospitals and doctors cannot collect payment; they sell the debt to collection agencies. Medical debt can be sold. But instead of collecting it, FOX59 has partnered with RIP Medical Debt to erase it for hundreds of Hoosiers.

Why can’t you pay for someone’s specific debt?
RIP Medical Debt can’t specifically pick out families because medical debt sold is sold in big chunks. RIP Medical Debt screens medical debt portfolios to pinpoint those bundles most in need of relief.

Why can’t you help me specifically?
FOX59 doesn’t pick the families. We made a donation to RIP Medical Debt to pay off debt for a randomized group and we were not able to pick specific central Indiana families or amounts of debt. We don’t even know the names of the individuals who will receive the letter from RIP Medical Debt. That’s a process that the charity organization takes care of.

Can I buy a specific family’s medical debt?
Unfortunately, you cannot. But any donation that is made is guaranteed to go to a central Indiana family needing financial assistance with their medical debt.

Does my medical debt expire?
Unfortunately, medical debt never leaves you alone, unless you file for bankruptcy protection. After seven years it does fall off of your credit report if your provider hasn’t sued you in court and obtained a judgment.

Am I ever “off the hook” for medical debt if I don’t pay?
You are only “off the hook” when you file for bankruptcy protection. Bankruptcy protection says you’re no longer obligated to pay medical debt you owed prior to the filing date. There are limitations to how long after a debt is created, that a debt collector can collect your debt. Debt typically falls off of credit reports after about 7 years.

I have medical debt. If I die, will my children have my debt?
No. Medical debt will not go to your children unless they signed paperwork as a co-signer or guarantor. If the estate has assets, it will need to pay the judgments owed by the estate before the children can receive their inheritance.

Can I buy medical debt myself? / Can I donate to the cause?
While you can’t pick a specific debt to pay for, you can donate to RIP Medical Debt. Every dollar that you donate, will wipe out $100 of someone’s medical debt.

Why can’t the hospital let me pay my bill for less?
If all hospitals let their patients pay their bill for such a reduced cost everybody would wait to pay their bills until their bill is reduced.

I have a bill and can’t pay for it. What do I do?
We have resources and organizations listed in a section above on this page that can help you figure out a financial plan.

What do I do when a debt collector calls?
Ask them to verify the debt in writing. They should be able to come back to you within 30 days and verify the location of the debt they are claiming to have.

Does medical debt impact me differently than typical debt?
Medical debt is different than typical debt because there are multiple billing entities that are involved in the charging such as insurance companies, doctors, labs, emergency services, radiologists, etc. When people seek medical help, they don’t always know what services they are being charged by.