yellow envelope

How a Yellow Envelope Erased $1.5M in Medical Debt

As the New York Times reports: “If a slim, yellow envelope with a Rye, N.Y., return address lands in your mailbox this holiday season, don’t throw it out. It’s not junk.”

“Some 1,300 such envelopes have been sent to New Yorkers around the state, containing the good news that R.I.P. Medical Debt, a New York-based nonprofit organization, has purchased their medical debt — and forgiven it.”

The NYT tells the story of two women, who — in partnership with with R.I.P. — erased $1.5 million in medical debt for “hundreds of strangers.”

We previously noted what a “yellow envelope” means. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported:

A yellow envelope coming to about 400 mailboxes in the Finger Lakes region holds a letter that will make the recipient very happy.

It could be the next best thing to finding out you’re a Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes winner.

The envelope bears the return address of RIP Medical Debt and the letter tells the recipient that some of what the person owes a hospital, doctor or other health care provider has been wiped out. Gone. Not an issue. Don’t worry about it.

The New York Times piece continues: “Last spring, Judith Jones and Carolyn Kenyon, both of Ithaca, N.Y., heard about R.I.P. Medical Debt, which purchases bundles of past-due medical bills and forgives them to help those in need. So the women decided to start a fund-raising campaign of their own to assist people with medical debt in New York.”

“Over the summer months, the women raised $12,500 and sent it to the debt-forgiveness charity, which then purchased a portfolio of $1.5 million of medical debts on their behalf, for about half a penny on the dollar.”

“Ms. Jones, 80, a retired chemist, and Ms. Kenyon, 70, a psychoanalyst, are members of the Finger Lakes chapter of the Campaign for New York Health, which supports universal health coverage through passage of the New York Health Act.”

The story of Jones and Kenyon was also noted in the Tompkins Weekly, which writes: “Carolyn Kenyon and Judy Jones are two local activists fighting to educate the public and convince elected officials to pass the New York Health Act, legislation that would create a single-payer health care system in New York. Currently, the bill has already passed the New York State Assembly but is just a few votes shy of passing in the state senate. While looking for ways to raise awareness about health care needs in the area, Jones and Kenyon stumbled upon RIP Medical Debt, a 501(c)(3) charity that buys up medical debt portfolios, for pennies on the dollar, just to abolish it. According to the RIP Medical Debt website, ‘$100 can forgive $10,000 in debt.’”


For more information on the issues surrounding medical debt, please contact RIP Medical Debt.