Suffering from Medical Debt? Find Help Here

Suffering from Medical Debt? Find Help Here. (Photo: WEYI/WSMH)

Medical debt can be finally and emotionally draining. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who can’t afford to pay your medical expenses, FOX66-NBC25 has compiled the following list of resources that may be able to help.

Charities or Nonprofits That Will Help With Medical Debt:

Elga Credit Union

https://www.elgacu.com/

Elga Credit Union has financial coaches and free financial fitness seminars that can help people with a variety of debt-related questions.

Pardee Cancer Treatment Fund

http://pardeecancerfund.com/

The Pardee Cancer Treatment Fund is a non-profit community organization providing financial assistance to patients residing in six mid-michigan counties undergoing cancer treatment.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – Children's Special Health Care Services

https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71547_35698---,00.html

Children's Special Health Care Services is a program within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It is for children and some adults with special health care needs and their families.

The Rainbow Connection

https://www.rainbowconnection.org/

The Rainbow Connection is a Michigan based 501 (c) 3 charity dedicated to making dreams come true for Michigan children with life threatening medical conditions.

Health Well Foundation

https://www.healthwellfoundation.org/

Helps assists patients in covering copayments, health care premiums and some deductibles.

Answers to Common Questions

How is medical debt purchased?

Medical debt is purchased when providers like hospitals and doctors cannot collect payment; they sell the debt to collection agencies. Medical debt can be sold. But instead of collecting it, FOX66-NBC25 has partnered with RIP Medical Debt to erase it for 1,000 mid-Michigan residents.

Why can’t you pay for someone's specific debt?

FOX66/NBC25 partnered up with a charity called RIP Medical Debt that will buy medical debt. The charity can’t specifically pick out families because it’s sold in one big chunk. RIP Medical Debt screens medical debt portfolios to pinpoint those bundles most in need of relief.

Why can’t you help me specifically?

FOX66/NBC25 doesn’t pick the families. FOX66/NBC25 made a donation to RIP Medical Debt to pay off debt for a randomized group and we were not able to pick specific mid-Michigan families or amounts of debt. We don’t even know the names of the individuals who will receive the letter from RIP Medical Debt. That’s a process that the organization takes care of.

Can I buy a specific family’s medical debt?

Unfortunately, you cannot. But any donation that is made is guaranteed to go to a mid-Michigan family needing financial assistance with their medical debt.

Does my medical debt expire?

Unfortunately, medical debt never leaves you alone, unless you file for bankruptcy protection. After seven years it does fall off of your credit report if your provider hasn’t sued you in court and obtained a judgment.

Am I ever “off the hook” for medical debt if I don’t pay?

You are only “off the hook” when you file for bankruptcy protection. Bankruptcy protection says you’re no longer obligated to pay medical debt you owed prior to the filing date. There are limitations to how long after a debt is created, that a debt collector can collect your debt. Debt typically falls off of credit reports after about 7 years.

I have medical debt. If I die, will my children have my debt?

No. Medical debt will not go to your children unless they signed paperwork as a co-signer or guarantor. If the estate has assets, it will need to pay the judgments owed by the estate before the children can receive their inheritance.

Can I buy medical debt myself? / Can I donate to the cause?

While you can’t pick a specific debt to pay for, you can donate to RIP Medical Debt. We have a links on our websites at http://nbc25news.com/medicaldebt or http://wsmh.com/medicaldebt. Every dollar that you donate, will wipe out $100 of someone’s medical debt.

Why can’t the hospital let me pay my bill for less?

If all hospitals let their patients pay their bill for such a reduced cost everybody would wait to pay their bills until their bill is reduced.

I have a bill and can’t pay for it. What do I do?

We have resources and local organizations that can help you figure out a financial plan.

What do I do when a debt collector calls?

Ask them to verify the debt in writing. They should be able to come back to you within 30 days and verify the location of the debt they are claiming to have.

Does medical debt impact me differently than typical debt?

Medical debt is different than typical debt because there are multiple billing entities that are involved in the charging such as insurance companies, doctors, labs, emergency services, radiologists, etc. When people seek medical help, they don’t always know what services they are being charged by.

Do's and Don'ts of Debt Collectors

Do:

  • Verify the debt in writing and ask for the validation notice.
  • Review a credit report for accuracy.
  • Make a note when collectors call you and how many times they call you.
  • Do assert your contact preferences. Collection agencies can communicate with you through mail.
  • Get the collector’s name and address.
  • Make copies of any documentation you send to a collector.
  • Report the debt collection to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or Michigan Attorney General’s Office if you feel they are violating your rights.

Don’t:

  • Don’t ignore lawsuits from debt collectors.
  • Don’t engage an agreement over the telephone with somebody you don’t know.
  • Don’t provide payment over the phone.


HELP PAY IT FORWARD

FOX66/ NBC25 News made a $12,500 donation to RIP Medical Debt. It’s a charity that locates, buys and forgives medical debt across the US. The donation will allow RIP Medial Debt to buy and forgive $1-million in debt within 13 local counties.

So what can you do? The same thing we did. Make a donation to RIP Medical Debt to help forgive even more medical debt within our community! $10,000 in donations will result in $1-million of medical debt forgiveness.

ELGA Credit Union is matching every dollar donated up to $5,000. Your $50 donation becomes $100 which forgives $10,000 in medical debt. Once fully matched, hundreds more will receive medical debt forgiveness in the amount of an additional $1-million.

Below is a donation link provided by RIP Medical Debt. Your money goes to the charity, not our station. For more information about the charity and how it works click here.

FOX66 & NBC25 News is not collecting or receiving any information provided in the donation form. The information entered into the form goes directly to the charity.

Donation Link:


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