Medical Debt: Who Is Buying It and How to Protect Yourself

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Playing Who Is Buying and Selling Your Medical Debt?

In America, medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy, and The Doctors welcome Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico, authors of “End Medical Debt,” and co-founders of the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to discuss how healthcare-related debt is being bought by third parties and what people who owe money can do to protect themselves.

Watch: How Medical Debt Can Affect More Than Your Wallet

Jerry and Craig say medical debt is a disaster for the country and destroying us, noting the estimated medical debt in our country is estimated to be upwards of 1 trillion dollars and they note that 800 billion of that is owed by people who are not able to pay it. 

They explain when someone has a medical bill and they cannot pay, it goes to a collection agency, and then it can be bought by a debt buyer, which buys debt at a fraction of what the individual owes. They use a variety of tactics in order to get the money, including calls, letters, lawsuits, and the garnishing of wages. They say around 30 percent of hospitals sell their debt, and not being able to pay these bills will end up affecting someone's credit score. 

Watch: How to Protect Yourself When Medical Debt Collectors Call

So what can someone do to protect themself when they have collectors coming after them for medical debt? Jerry and Craig suggest the following tips:

  • Ask for an itemized list of your debt from the collector
  • Dispute the bill, he notes you have 30 days to dispute a bill
  • Once disputed, stay in contact and communication with the collector in order to find a solution
  • Negotiate the amount, and also negotiate the price with the doctor prior to having the procedure or surgery

In the video below, meet Kahea, whose medical debt was forgiven by RIP Medical Debt after she was unable to pay. To help someone get out of medical debt, donate to RIP Medical Debt below.  

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