The Billion-Dollar Burden on the Backs of America’s Veterans

For veterans – and even active duty military – the impact of unpayable personal medical debt reflects the pain of the general population. They are included in the 15 million people in the USA annually become insolvent, the one million people with medical debt every year who go bankrupt and those whose impacted credit scores keep them from buying a home, renting an apartment or even getting employment.

RIP Medical Debt, in its capacity as a 501(C)(3) nonprofit searches out medical debt to purchase and forgive it, has assembled a first-ever mini-summit on unpaid veteran and active-duty service member medical debt. The event is gathering innovators and thought leaders from veteran organizations and military charities, medical providers, banking, governmental agencies, technology companies, philanthropists and foundations to invest their time and energy in a full day of solution finding and action planning.

Here are a few reasons why this need has attracted their attention:

  • About 90,000 veterans each year are denied coverage by the VA based on the “prudent layperson” standard (attend the summit to learn more). This practice saves the government approximately $3 billion annually, but such “cost shifting” to the vet belies our country’s belief that we take care of those who have taken care of us.
  • Bills for unexpected emergency room visits outside the VA are routinely rejected. These bills become the vet’s responsibility to pay. The stress from collection calls for an unpayable bill can compound PTSD and wreak havoc on family relationships.
  • In 2010 an estimated that 1.3 million uninsured U.S. vets had out-of-pocket medical expenses exceeding their disposable incomes…a number that has risen steadily.
  • Men and women in the armed forces are nearly twice as likely to file complaints about debt collection as the general population.

RIP’s technology partners at the summit will be TransUnion HealthcareTheNumber, and Obashi, along with a University Team. (MIT, University of Chicago, UC Berkeley, and UCLA) which is conducting a national and first-ever economic impact study of the effects forgiving medical debt.

Should you be there as well? If you are a veteran or family member affected, or if you are in an industry or profession that can work with us to provide positive remedies, your attendance is not just requested – it is essential. Visit our webpage detailing the days events where you will find an invite button.

Time and distance or calendar conflicts but still want to help financially? Donors can text RIPVETDEBT to 41444 or directly at our website. Connect with us on Twitter (we are @RIPMedicalDebt) and use this hashtag to help us celebrate our mission: #NoVetMedDebt.

Let’s make some military person’s life a little (perhaps even a lot) easier.

Jerry Ashton is the co-founder of RIP Medical Debt.