THE BLOG
07/02/2015 12:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Medical Debt and a Citizen Call for a New Declaration of Independence

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Now that the Supreme Court has once again upheld the legal foundations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the proper celebrating and hand-wringing has had its day, it's time to reveal the real winner of that program.

America's bill collectors.

It is because of this confluence of rising medical costs, larger co-pays and crushing out-of-pocket expenses that we at RIP Medical Debt feel it is time for a Declaration of Independence from Medical Debt.

It's been 239 years since the citizens of this country have found reason to declare themselves to be independent of some controlling, external threat. Where is there today something of equivalent import that would cause people to say "enough is enough" and rise up to take action?

How about life, itself?

The very first right that the signers of the Declaration declared was that of LIFE ("...life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.") Life's requisites are food, clothing and shelter - and health. When the latter is threatened and medical services are required, it is not only life that is imperiled - it is the financial well-being of the unfortunate victim of that accident or illness who now has become a debtor.

Today, we don't have to look outside our borders to find a tyrant from which we need to declare our independence - it's right here in the U.S. It is unpaid - and unpayable - medical debt.

Grim Statistics - Medical Debt and its Effects

Are you aware that:

1. 62% of personal bankruptcies are medically related.
2. Fully 70% of these people declaring bankruptcy had insurance in effect.
3. 64 Million Americans struggled to pay medical bills in 2014.
4. More than 11 million people will take on additional credit card debt this year to cover mounting medical expenses.
5. Nearly 15 million people will deplete their savings to cover medical bills.
6. Another 10 million will be unable to pay for basic necessities because of these bills.
7. Some 43 million Americans have delinquent medical debt on their credit reports - one out of five.
8. For 15 million people, medical debt is the only debt they have in these reports.

To put numbers in context, last year some 1.7 million people filed bankruptcy because of medical debt. In 2015, more women will go bankrupt than will divorce, and the annual number of new bankrupt debtors will exceed the number of new college graduates.

If this isn't life-and-liberty threatening, what could be?

Applying the Spirit of 1776 and July 4th to Unpaid Medical Debt

And, why not? Our country has celebrated this holiday for over two centuries as a day in which its citizens declared themselves liberated from oppression and abuse. Why not choose this very symbolic day to do the same thing to the tyranny of medical debt? The "Spirit of '76" is keenly applicable to the energy that will be needed today.

As former executives in the debt collection industry, the founders of RIP Medical Debt, are using decades of experience in that world to apply an "insiders" resolution to a broken system. To do this, they started by incorporating RIP Medical Debt as a not-for-profit operating as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization awaiting IRS recognition.

In response to this pent-up need, a growing and energetic team is launching a year-long campaign which will begin with a declaration of freedom from unpaid - and unpayable - medical debt and will end with the abolishment of enough debt to get some 6,000 to 12,000 families out from under this burden.

Here's the funding plan

This Saturday, July 4, 2014, we intend to raise $177,600 to buy and abolish $17.76 million in medical debt here in the northeast tri-state area. Once that is achieved, we will move across the continent, from state to state and community to community to do the same thing.

Here's the math

In the debt sales arena, medical debt can be bought for one or two pennies on the dollar. With $177,600 in hand from this successful campaign, we will be able to purchase some $17.76 million in unpaid doctor and hospital bills.

It's amazing, what a penny can do, eh? A $50 donation will relieve a $5,000 medical burden, $500 will relieve $50,000 in such debt, and on and on.

A series of actions will be staged for this national, year-long fundraising drive to accomplish this mission. Once completed, we can then turn our team's attention to accomplishing our larger mission - to buy and abolish $1,000,000,000 (yes, one BILLION dollars) in unpaid medical debt. That will rescue over 300,000 families from the calls and contacts of bill collectors.

It's time to take up arms.