Healthtech Start-up Aims to Outdo John Oliver

06/28/2017 05:35 pm ET Updated Jul 05, 2017

Well, it had to happen

Better, the healthtech operation that makes it simple for people to get money back from their health insurance, announced today that it intends to beat John Oliver’s highly-public gift of forgiving $15M in unpaid medical debt for 9,000 families in Texas last summer.

Better will up the ante by going bigger, over a longer period of time, and in more states.

Better will begin to methodically abolish $16M in medical debt across America from California to New York, and hopes to include around 10,000 fortunate recipients of their generosity. The company will direct 100 percent of all future revenues to RIP Medical Debt, a 501(C)(3) charity, until they have out-given John Oliver.

“We are buying back medical debt because so many Americans struggle in this broken healthcare system,” says CEO Rachael Norman. “There are no strings attached to our debt forgiveness program – it’s our way to pay it forward.”

John Oliver can take solace in the fact that Ms. Norman will not be doing this all in one night with a national audience with a dazzling stage with a fluorescent red button pused to signal the debt’s demise. Mr. Oliver can also take pleasure in the fact that he has helped start a movement.

Others on the Oliver bandwagon

John Oliver and the producers at Last Week Tonight have spawned an amazing amount of interest and look-alike efforts to address America’s problem with unpaid medical debt. Imitation has been not only the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also been the most effective.

RIP’s CEO, Craig Antico, says that by the end of July, John Oliver’s fans will have made possible the abolishment of more than $75,000,000 in medical debt.

The youngest in this string of philanthropists include a trio of High School students in Pensacola who launched a campaign to abolish $1,000,000 in their part of Florida.

The most public is the Minnesota Nurses Association which earlier this month bought and abolished $2.6M in medical debt for more than 1,800 families. It was their unique way of thanking Minnesotans for the support they gave the nurses’ union during two long strikes over the past year.

Given the current drama in our nation’s capital and the proposed cuts being considered in health care coverage, the need is clear for RIP’s debt forgiveness programs. Antico sighs, “Our work will only grow. Even if a single-payer system were to be instituted this year, there are trillions of dollars from past years that need to be drained from the debt swamp.”

Many thanks to Better for arriving with shovels and hoes.

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