As the world continues to struggle through the many unforeseen consequences of a pandemic, many here in the United States will face large healthcare bills. These unexpected costs will especially affect the underinsured.
We’ve seen stories about people finding out how expensive it is to get treated for COVID-19 with no insurance. What about those who will be surprised at how much they still owe? After all, they have insurance… just not enough of it.
One of my favorite episodes that we had the chance to record was with Craig Antico of RIP Medical Debt. Craig is the co-founder of a non-profit that focuses on eliminating bad medical debt. This is the debt that would normally be turned over to a collections agency from a hospital or a healthcare organization.
RIP Medical Debt looks for the debt of those who have little chance of being able to pay it off. The non-profit then buys that debt from healthcare systems.
It’s quite the change from Craig’s former job of working in debt collection! The following quote from his interview makes me smile every time I see it:
Craig Antico on the Underinsured
Craig taught me a lot about how people think about debt and how we have such an issue with medical debt in our country.
During the conversation, he introduced me to the concept of “the underinsured.” I’ll use his words to explain.
The biggest problem that we’re having now, because people have insurance, is that they’ve now become uninsured or under-insured, because as the deductibles increased, they now take on the first dollar up to maybe $3,000.
So you might be uninsured, it’s very easy to tell those people, but underinsured means “is your deductible equal to 5% of your gross income?”, and that can happen pretty quickly.
You make $50,000, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say all I have to have is a deductible of $2,500 to be under-insured. So there’s 68 million of those people that are either uninsured or under-insured, and those are the people that are the highest at risk.Craig Antico
We recorded this episode before the pandemic really became a major ordeal here in the United States. I’m worried to know what the number of uninsured or under-insured is right now.
My family dealt with a massive amount of data compared to our level of income when my wife and I first got married. We never thought that we would deal with major medical bills while we were still so young and healthy.
In my first job out of college, I was making $18,000 annually at a non-profit. Our deductible was $5,000 a year, and I was proud of myself because we had insurance.
Before I continue this fun tale, let’s check our math. A $5,000 deductible for an income of $18,000 means that my deductible was equal to 27.78% of my income. I was 5x over the line of being underinsured.
In those first few years, I crashed spectacularly while mountain biking and shattered my clavicle. I paid on that surgery for years–first to the hospital and then to a collections agency.
There are no easy fixes here. When I look back on my experience with medical bills, I’m grateful that I at least had some sort of insurance. That bill could have been much higher.
Still, the financial burden that people take on unexpectedly can be crushing.
If you’re in a place where you’re wondering how you can help, I invite you to consider RIP Medical Debt. Each dollar donated can relieve $100 in medical debt for someone else.
I love that this charity exists, and I love seeing people think in new ways to solve our country’s healthcare problems.