Donors help forgive medical debt for 10,000 in Appalachia

Two donors from Appalachia helped a nonprofit group in the region purchase and forgive $10 million of medical debt for over 10,000 people.

“We’re going to get their current address and then there’s a special letter that’s going out to each of these people,” Craig Antico, the founder of the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, told NBC News.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 told the outlet that Jim Branscome, a former journalist who later became the managing director of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services, and author and journalist Bill Bishop made a $100,000 donation to buy the medical debt from the debt market.

The donation will help people in 70 counties in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. RIP Medical Debt is unable to target specific individuals but is able to purchase groups of people's debt in bulk.

The two donors came to RIP Medical Debt in May and said they wanted their contribution to specifically help those in Central Appalachia. 

“I love the idea that people are abolishing debt in complete regions,” Antico said.

Americans borrowed an estimated $88 billion to cover medical expenses in the 12 months before the April release of a Gallup and West Health report

RIP Medical Debt said it has identified $240 million of medical debt in the counties of Appalachia alone. 

“That’s going to be part of a bigger campaign to help in Appalachia,” Antico said. “We can target by geography and then further refine by plight: Are they poor, insolvent or are they in hardship?”