WHAT: The University Team of researchers are meeting to finalize plans for studying the economic impact of medical debt forgiveness and removal from credit reports.
WHO: Researchers from the Economics Departments of UCLA, University of Chicago, MIT, and UC/Berkeley; also RIP Medical Debt, TransUnion, 1/0, philanthropists, and other interested parties.
WHY: About 64 million Americans struggle with unpaid and unpayable medical debt annually, even with health insurance. About 15 million people annually become insolvent (use all of their savings and go into more debt for their health care). About 1 million people with medical debt per year go bankrupt. Worse, the pending changes in national health care policy may vastly increase medical debt in America, so this economic impact study of medical debt forgiveness is important.
The University Team:
- Wes Yin, PhD, Associate Professor of Public Policy, UCLA.
- Neale Mahoney, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Chicago.
- Francis Wong, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, UC/Berkeley.
- Ray Kluender, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, MIT.
Overview: Morning session features reports by the researchers and medical debt forgiveness economic impact study supporters. Afternoon working sessions with the University Team accompany breakout sessions for special interest groups in the banking, collections, insurance, philanthropic, medical, and technology industries.
7:30 AM: Morning meet-and-greet. Coffee and pastries will be served.
9:00 AM: Introductions of attendees. Opening remarks by Craig Antico and Vishal Garg.
9:30 AM: Reports or updates by selected attendees (about 15 minutes each), including the University Team, Andy Goldstone from TransUnion, Guhan Kandasamy from One/Zero. Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton from RIP Medical Debt, and others.
An open Q&A will allow a deeper dive into the day’s agenda.
Special guests who cannot attend in person may call in that morning.
12:00 PM: One-hour sandwich break.
1:00 PM: Shirtsleeves work by the University team and others, including breakout sessions for special interest groups in the banking, collections, insurance, philanthropic, medical and tech industries.
5:00 PM: Conference day complete.
Wes Yin, UCLA
“Nearly 40 percent American households with annual incomes below $50,000 report problems paying medical bills. Despite it’s prevalence and potential devastating impacts on families, we know little about the impacts of medical debt…. To understand these impacts more rigorously, we propose using a randomized control methodology to study the impacts of medical debt abolishment. The rigorous research design will also allow us to better understand the broader channels by which medical debt is incurred, and learn how best to reduce medical debt and improve the well-being of vulnerable consumers.”
Neale Mahoney, UChicago
“We are interested in whether medical debt relief can start a virtuous cycle: raising credit scores, lowering interest rates on non-medical debt, and thereby allowing households to more generally get their financial lives in order. And we’re hoping to identify which types of household benefit the most from medical debt relief, so that we can target medical debt forgiveness to get the highest bang-for-the-buck.”
Francis Wong, UC/Berkeley
“Consumer medical debt affects the lives of millions of Americans today, and yet its magnitude is not commonly understood or appreciated. Our research hopes to bring the issue of consumer medical debt into the spotlight by precisely measuring its consequences for debtors. We hope that our work will eventually inform policy to improve the way the healthcare system manages patient financial care.”
Ray Kluender, MIT
“Around 30 percent of Americans have a medical debt in collections, but we have very little good evidence on how this impacts their economic lives. Our proposed research seeks to fill this gap by studying how the relief of this burden will affect their finances, include their ability to pay off student and auto loans and credit card and mortgage debt. In doing so, we hope to better understand whether the forgiveness of debt (medical debt in particular) can help spring people out of debt traps and avoid bankruptcy.”
RIP Medical Debt is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charity, based in Rye, New York, established in 2014 to abolish unpaid and unpayable medical debt. Funded by donations from individuals and organizations, RIP locates and buys “portfolios” of medical debt (for pennies on the dollar) and then simply forgives the debt, no strings attached — a random act of kindness.
RIP Medical Debt
About Medical Debt
- The Patient, The Doctor
and the Bill Collector:
A Medical Debt
by Robert Goff and Jerry Ashton
You also may watch the full 20-minute Debt Buyers segment, originally aired Jun 5, 2016, in which RIP forgives almost $15 million in medical debt.
Wes Yin, PhD
Associate Professor of Public Policy, Department of Public Policy, Anderson School of Management, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA); Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research
Neale Mahoney, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago (UChicago); Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of
Francis Wong, PhD Candidate
Department of Economics, University of California at Berkeley (UC/Berkeley)
Ray Kluender, PhD Candidate
Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Board of Directors
Director of Military Debt
Acquisitions and Relief
NYC Team Leader