United States

10,000 in Appalachia Will See Medical Debt Forgiven, Highlighting National Issue

Approximately one in 6 Americans are contacted annually by debt collectors over a health care bill and 52% of collection items on credit reports are for medical debts, according to the National Consumer Law Center

More than 10,000 people in Appalachia will sigh with relief this month after two donors from the region helped nonprofit RIP Medical Debt purchase and forgive $10 million of medical debt. But it's just a drop in the bucket of the $88 billion of medical debt racked up in the United States over the past year, NBC News reports.

“We’re going to get their current address and then there’s a special letter that’s going out to each of these people,” said RIP Medical Debt founder Craig Antico, who celebrated the fifth anniversary of the nonprofit Thursday. “It’s from the donors, and it’s going to tell them they’re part of a larger campaign. They’re going to get a letter in a yellow envelope that says this is a no-strings attached gift from people in the community.”

Antico said the $100,000 donation, which buys the $10 million debt for pennies on the dollar, came from two individuals — Jim Branscome, a former journalist who became the managing director of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services, and author and journalist Bill Bishop. The 10,000 people affected are sprawled across 70 counties in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. The nonprofit is unable to pinpoint individuals, but is able to purchase groups of people's debt in bulk from the debt market, which they did in this case.

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