City plans to abolish $2 billion in medical debt for New Yorkers

The new program will help hospitals and doctors recover the money they don’t have the bandwidth to collect. It will do this through RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that will purchase and pay it off, instead of a debt collector.

Katelynn Ulrich and Adolfo Carrion

Jan 22, 2024, 10:23 PM

Updated 143 days ago

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A new program will relieve some New York residents of a combined $2 billion in owed medical debt. 
Mayor Eric Adams and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Ashwin Vasan announced a medical debt relief program on Monday that aims to relieve the debt. 
For residents like Drew Mahalik, facing an injury brings more to mind than just physical health.  
“When I think back to the night that I received my injury, I remember that I hadn't yet lifted myself from the ice when I thought, 'Oh god, what is this going to cost me?’” said Mahalik. “The burden of debt is falling more on the patient." 
The new program will help hospitals and doctors recover the money they don’t have the bandwidth to collect. It will do this through RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that will purchase and pay it off, instead of a debt collector.  
The city is giving RIP Medical Debt $18 million to pay for the $2 billion in medical debt.  
The median amount of medical debt collections in Brooklyn is $381 and is $440 in the Bronx, according to research from the Urban Institute.  
RIP Medical Debt doesn’t take applications - it figures out whose debt to pay off based on annual household income that’s at or below 400% of the federal poverty line. It also chooses people if their medical debt equals 5% or more of their annual household income.  


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