RIP Medical Debt has received national TV exposure from its unique proposition: It buys and forgives U.S. medical debt. In late 2018, a smaller campaign driven by two supporters became the nonprofit’s most successful.
For every $100 in donations New York-based nonprofit RIP Medical Debt receives, it’s able to forgive $10,000 in medical debt. The nonprofit uses data to localize campaigns and find the debt most in need of forgiveness. Since RIP Medical Debt was founded in 2014, it claims to have eliminated $500 million in medical debt.
Audiences are captivated by RIP Medical Debt’s proposition because of just how many U.S. citizens are crippled by medical debt. A study by the Urban Institute found that the total medical debt owed by U.S. citizens is $1 trillion. Another study by NerdWallet Health finds that almost 2 million new people file for bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills each year, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finds that 20% of Americans have at least one medical debt collection item in their credit reports.
“It’s something that unless you are sick or dealing with the issue of debt, it’s easy to think that people do it themselves, that they overextend themselves,” says Daniel Lempert, an account executive at DVM Communications, who has run the PR and communications campaigns for RIP Medical Debt since 2017. “But when it comes to medical debt, no one chooses to get sick. That’s a huge part of the messaging.”