Andrea Gaskins, of Middletown, nearly hit rock bottom while dealing with mounting medical bills and threatening calls from debt collectors and she is not alone.
Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States, according to data from credit agencies and the federal government. Roughly, 43 million people are struggling with unpaid medical bills and the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, parent of NBC Connecticut, is making a donation to a nonprofit to forgive $1 million in Connecticut medical debt.
The burden of medical debt can take a toll on a family’s well-being and make a bad health situation worse.
In December, Andrea Gaskin’s husband Anthony developed a staph infection in one of his legs and the life-threatening infection forced doctors to remove his knee replacement.
“It got into the leg through open skin and went into the hardware in his knee,” Andrea Gaskins said.
“There was a lot of emotions. A lot of nights and days crying and struggling,” Gaskins said about her family’s situation.
She constantly worried about how the family would make ends meet.
“It changes your life. It changes your life,” Gaskins said.
Although the family has insurance, they still racked up $10,000 in medical debt after spending months in the hospital and weeks at the doctor’s office.
“What are we going to do? We’re down an income. I have two children. We have to maintain this household,” Andrea Gaskins said.
Craig Antico, a former debt collector, has launched RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that helps wipe away some of that debt by buying medical debt, forgiving it and closing the account.
Medical debt is bought and re-sold for pennies on the dollar in financial markets, similar to how mortgages are sold and resold.
“I’ve seen how destructive the debt can be,” Antico, the CEO of RIP Medical Debt, said.
Hospitals or doctors who don’t have time to chase down debtors can sell their patients’ unpaid bills to debt collectors, who can buy $1,000 of debt for just $10. Then they pressure the customer to pay the full debt, often damaging their credit and livelihood in the process.
“Our goal this year is to buy a billion dollars in medical debt,” Antico said.
“We’re one illness away. One accident away from financial ruin in this country,” Antico added.
NBC Connecticut believes medical debt should not destroy your life, so we are working with RIP Medical Debt to do something about it.
Our parent company, the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, is making a donation to the nonprofit, enough to forgive $1 million in Connecticut medical debt.
At least 674 people in Connecticut will receive yellow envelopes from RIP Medical Debt informing them that some of their medical debt has been forgiven.
You can’t sign up or apply. The selection process is completely random.