If you’ve ever been to the emergency room, you know the cost of a single visit can leave you feeling worse than before you got there. Medical debt is a huge problem -- one in five Americans have it.
Simply put, it’s the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States. That’s why NBC 5 has decided to do something to help address it.
If you challenge a hospital bill for $10,000, the hospital might sell that debt to a collector at a discount, leaving the collector to come after you for the money.
But over time collectors sell on debt to other collectors, paying less and less each time. Eventually, the debt can be bought for pennies on the dollar.
That's where a unique not-for-profit steps in. RIP Medical Debt uses charitable donations to buy batches of medical debt for a fraction of face value and then cancel it.
Now, the NBC Universal Owned Television Stations Group, which owns WMAQ, is making a $150,000 donation to RIP Medical Debt, which will let them retire $15 million in debt.
RIP does have some criteria -- they look for people who are at double the federal poverty level or below, or who owe more than they own, or who are otherwise in some kind of hardship. (As RIP buys the debt without knowing who the debtors are, it's not possible to sign up or to request your specific debt be relieved.)
Those who get their debt relieved will receive a yellow envelope from RIP Medical Debt in the mail letting them know that the specified debt (but not necessarily all of their debt) is gone.
NBC is not collecting or receiving any information provided in the fields below. This goes directly to the charity.