Maybe @realdonaldtrump Can Donate $75K to Pay Off Veterans' Medical Debt | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

When care isn’t covered, hospitals and health care providers would rather not deal with trying to collect on delinquent bills. So they sell their patient debt to a collection agency that buys the debt for less — a lot less — than what is outstanding. These agencies then go after the patient for the original amount, hoping to turn a profit.


Legally, collection agencies have from three to ten years to collect on the debt, but Oliver pointed out that many don’t give up then. Companies also use aggressive collection tactics, which Oliver mocked, such as threatening the debtor’s dog or calling their boss at home.


To highlight how “disturbingly easy” it is to found one of these collection agencies and obtain debtors’ personal financial information, Oliver started his own agency for $50, naming himself chairman of its board. Central Asset Recovery Professionals, Inc. (acronym CARP, as in bottom-dwelling fish), of Mississippi, then purchased nearly $15 million in medical debt for under $60,000.


Instead of going after 9,000-plus debtors to reclaim that debt, Oliver announced that their obligations would be turned over to a charity, RIPMedicalDebt, and disappear forever.


Declaring his move the biggest TV show charity giveaway since Oprah’s cars, Oliver stood between two giant gold dollar signs, and pressed a giant red button. As money (presumably fake) fell from the ceiling, he loudly declared himself “the new queen of daytime talk.”


Craig Antico, a co-founder of RIPMedicalDebt, said the nonprofit aims to eliminate at least $1 billion in medical debt for the country’s poorest patients.


That goal sounds huge, but since medical debt is sold on the cheap — because it’s hard to collect — Antico said it takes less than a cent to buy and then forgive a dollar of debt. “It only takes $14.45 million to abolish $1 billion in debt,” he said.


RIPMedicalDebt currently forgives debt only for those whose annual income is less than twice the federal poverty level. This includes the debts John Oliver bought for under $60,000.


For nearly a year, the charity has been trying to raise funds to pay the debts of veterans. But it has only managed to raise about $8,000 of its $75,000 goal.


“There are so many people who need this that we can specify people like cancer survivors or people in Detroit because it’s especially hard hit.”