One couple's donation will be used to forgive a whopping $250 million in U.S. medical debt by the year's end, the not-for-profit organization RIP Medical Debt announced Thursday.
RIP Medical Debt said its campaign is the largest medical debt abolishment in the history of the county. The organization buys large portfolios of debt from medical providers and debt sellers on the debt market and forgives it, helping families and individuals. The debt is then removed from credit reports and can no longer be collected on, the organization said.
The anonymous couple behind the donation said in a statement that catastrophic illness strikes people of all walks of life without warning.
"A quarter billion dollars is just the tip of the immense iceberg of debt submerging millions of Americans in a sea of hopelessness that can adversely affect the course of their illnesses, damaging their ability to recover," the statement said. "We only wish that we could do more."
RIP Medical Debt said it plans to forgive the debt in stages, with $150 million forgiven immediately. Random recipients will receive branded RIP Medical Debt abolishment letters in yellow envelopes by Nov. 6. Of that $150 million in debt, $50 million will be for U.S. veterans and their families. The remaining $100 million will be spaced out to last through the year, with $50 million mailing for Thanksgiving and another $50 million for the holidays, according to RIP Medical Debt.
RIP co-founders Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico said in a joint statement that healthcare financing is a major crisis in the U.S.
"This extraordinary act will bring hope to so many people who have felt they were carrying this burden alone at a time when they need it most," they said.
According to RIP Medical Debt, one in five people living in the U.S. carry medical debt, and nearly half of all credit card debt in the U.S. is from medical debt.