Medical debt relief letters are arriving in Utahns mailboxes
(KUTV) Imagine opening up your mailbox to learn that your debt has been wiped out! It's a reality for hundreds of Utahns all thanks to an ongoing Get Gephardt campaign aimed at paying off medical bills for pennies on the dollar.
Last week we showed you how debt collectors can buy up your medical bills at a remarkable discount and how we were able to then do the same. For $12,500, KUTV paid off more than $1.4 million in medical debt that people in our state owe.
Now, we are beginning to hear from folks who got some unexpected great news.
When Donnie Wood opened her mailbox she says she was in shock.
“I just couldn't believe it. It was just too much to be true. I looked at it and I looked at it and I made my husband look at it,” she said.
The truth eventually sunk in. 13 of her family's medical bills had been completely paid off for a total of $6,103.01.
"It feels like a miracle to me,” she said. “Having all this medical debt is just very overwhelming."
It's a debt Donnie never expected. Several years ago, a back surgery led to MRSA and was then compounded by a serious foot injury. It left her husband disabled and unable to work. Their income took a major blow but the medical bills kept coming.
Donnie says, in an attempt to rack up more debt, she and her husband will put off treatments or even getting their medications.
"It’s really hard when you have to nickel and dime yourself with continuing health problems,” she said.
The debt collectors have been persistent, she says, with non-stop calls, and worse.
"They are sending bill collectors to my home and telling me that they're going to do an estate sale and come in and sell all of the belongings that we have."
Donnie is one of 555 people in Utah we were able to help with our station's donation to a charity called RIP Medical Debt. The organization buys up debt of people who simply cannot pay and then they wash it away.
"I'm very happy, very happy,” Donnie said. “I appreciate it very much."
Get Gephardt was also contacted by another recipient of a payoff letter. She asked to remain anonymous, but says the letter arrived on her birthday and informed her that $1001 of her debt was instantly relived.
“I have medical debt that I will be lucky to pay off...ever,” she wrote in an email. “Although it does not take [care] of all of my medical debt, I cannot thank you enough for helping myself, as well as the many others you did with this particular story.”
With your help, $1.4 M has been just the beginning. Since our original story aired showing how we can buy up medical debt for pennies on the dollar, we have been taking donations.
We have now raised more than $25,000 which means that more than $2.5 M of medical bills in Utah are getting paid off.
If you want to donate, click here.
Due to patient privacy laws, Get Gephardt doesn’t get to know whose debt we have paid. But we would love to tell a few more of these happy stories, so if you get a payoff notice, do what Donnie did and give us a call at (801) 839-1250 or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.