News 4 pays off $1 million in medical debt


ST. LOUIS ( -- Crushing medical debt weighs on thousands of people in Missouri and Illinois. According to a recent study from the Urban Institute, 18 percent of all people in the United States have medical debt in collections. That’s the same percentage in Illinois but in Missouri, the average is higher at 21 percent of the population with medical debt in collections.

To help with this growing crisis, KMOV partnered with the non-profit RIP Medical Debt. KMOV donated $12,500 to RIP Medical Debt and the organization was able to purchase just over $1 million in medical debt in collections throughout the St. Louis area.

Read: Resources for those in Medical Debt

“I never really loved the collection business,” said Craig Antico, one of the founders of RIP Medical debt. Antico spent nearly two decades as a debt collector, but now he spends his days abolishing debt through his organization.

Nationwide nearly 1-in-5 households has medical debt in collections, but that debt is sold for pennies on the dollar, meaning medical practices and hospitals sell of their unpaid bills for a fraction of the amount owed to debt collectors, who then try to collect on the full amount patients owed. For every dollar donated to RIP Medical Debt, they are able to purchase and forgive $100 in medical debt in collection.

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With our donation to RIP Medical debt, they were able to relieve the debt of 512 people in our area. All of those people received a letter from RIP Medical Debt stating the amount they no longer owed.

Cathy Ebersol of Staunton, Illinois was one of the people who received a letter.

“I thought it was a gag, yeah whatever, that's why I called,” Ebersol told News 4. In her case, the bill KMOV purchased was owed to The Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in the amount of $564. That debt is now gone.

But that was just one of the medical bills that were piling up on her dining room table.

Craig Antico can relate to Ebersol’s struggle. In 2011, Antico negotiated a $3,000 settlement to pay off his medical debt. Now, he's motivated to help others do the same.

The more he promotes his program, the more debt gets abolished.

In Dallas, a church recently donated $100,000 to wipe out $10 million worth of debt in the Dallas area.

Antico makes it clear he can't help everyone, especially those who are just getting big bills from hospitals. That's because the debt must be in collections before RIP Medical Debt can assist.

You can register with RIP Medical Debt so they can work to try and help in the future.

If you have received a letter from RIP Medical Debt or wish to tell News 4 about your medical debt story email us at:

Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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