1000 debtors liberated from medical debt in KY & IN! Join the fight against for profit healthcare ow.ly/iUrkg— StrikeDebt (@StrikeDebt) March 14, 2013
Today, Strike Debt, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street which organized the Rolling Jubilee to raise money for debt relief, announced it's first major purchase of and elimination of said debt. Approximately $50,000 of the money they've raised was used to retire $1,000,000 in medical debt in their first major purchase on the 'open debt' market. (In December, 2012, they commenced to do a 'trial buy' of medical debt, using $5,000 to purchase $100,000 of unpaid medical debt.)
We are very happy to announce that we have completed our second purchase of medical debt. This time, we bought and abolished over $1 million in debt from emergency rooms in Kentucky and Indiana. The average debtor owed around $900 and we will be abolishing the debt of over 1,000 people! We are sending the letters to the debtors as we type this. We are very concerned with the privacy of debtors, but if any of them come forward and want to share their stories, we will make them public...The Rolling Jubilee started, well, rolling, back in November, 2012, and went viral. Hoping to raise $50,000 to buy medical debt at pennies on the dollar, by the time they stopped asking for donations in January, 2013 they had raised more than $500,000, enough to buy up more than $11,000,000 in medical debt and burn it.
But the effort was not so much about any individual's debt which might be eradicated, rather to call attention to the whole, evil idea.
From the beginning of the project over six months ago we have been very clear about three things we want from this project: (1) to provide some real relief for those around the country who are struggling under the crushing burden of debt; (2) to change the conversation around debt and austerity; and (3) to help advance debt resistance as part of a larger movement capable of bringing about a profound transformation of our economic system...Medical debt. A concept that barely exists in civilized countries. Yet here in the United States we continue the barbarous practice of kicking people when they are most down and out. Can you imagine trying to recover from a major illness while worrying all the time about how you will ever pay for your treatment and being hounded by debt collectors to boot?
When starting Rolling Jubilee we committed to buying medical debt first and foremost, wanting to call attention to the profound inhumanity and inequity of our for-profit healthcare system. We have spent a great deal of time learning about the medical debt market, and the healthcare industry at large. It is an industry designed to confuse, overwhelm, and exploit. Though one in three people have medical debt, very few know that their debts are for sale on the secondary market, nor do they realize that old medical bills can negatively impact their credit scores, often with disastrous consequences for their financial well being.
People are made to suffer twice, first from injury or illness and then financial extortion. We are all forced into debt while private insurance companies, banks and real estate moguls profit off of our misery. We refuse to accept this. We want to use the attention these buys will generate to have an impact on the struggle for real, free, accessible healthcare for the 99%. There are real solutions being proposed as alternatives to Obama's Affordable Care Act: a single-payer healthcare system would save the U.S. $400 billion dollars every year; even just expanding Medicare to all would save $68 billion by 2020. Creating a public alternative or single-payer system are some of the many ways to strike debt.It's time to 'Just Say No!' to medical debt and our system of health care for profit.
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