RIP Medical Debt Acquires and Retires Crippling Medical Debt for Consumers
In 2011, Jerry Ashton was working in the debt collection industry and living in lower Manhattan’s financial district. There, he had front-row seats to the Occupy Wall Street gatherings and demonstrations based out of Zuccotti Park.
Ashton, a former Navy journalist and naturally curious, began chatting with some of the activists, and he quickly found himself connecting with a working group that was dedicated to purchasing and paying off medical debt as a charitable act.
The group’s mission was about more than retiring medical debt, though. It was about calling attention to the failings of the healthcare system in the United States and the financial burden that falls on individuals least able to bear it.
Together with his friend Craig Antico, who also worked in the collections industry, Ashton helped facilitate the working group’s process. The group eventually dissolved but not before making an impact — and not least on Ashton and Antico. The pair left their old jobs behind and started a nonprofit organization, RIP Medical Debt, to continue the work that the group had started.
“No one chooses to get sick. No one chooses to be in an accident. No one chooses to be born with a chronic health condition. These things happen to people,” said Daniel Lempert, Director of Communications at RIP Medical Debt. “We provide a financial benefit for individuals. We wipe out debts.”
The most obvious benefit is the improvement of a recipient’s financial situation. They’re no longer struggling to pay bills, which means more money can go into savings, retirement, or college funds. But it also reduces emotional stress, which further improves physical wellness and overall quality of life. That, in turn, helps to prevent further medical issues. And when those issues arise, people who are debt-free are more likely and able to seek the care they need.
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