Starting July 12, people with a total of $6.7 million in old medical debt in several counties near Syracuse, NY will receive bright yellow envelopes in the mail. For this, they can thank 18-year-old Talia Zames.
The letters bring extraordinary news: The recipients’ medical debt will be gone. Abolished. And for this, they not only can thank Zames, but also RIP Medical Debt.
As CNBC outlines: “While some high school seniors were slacking off during their final months of school, Talia Zames, 18, launched a campaign to raise $15,000 in an effort to pay off old medical debt from those in her own community.”
“To help connect her donated dollars with those in need, Zames coordinated with the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. The organization locates unpaid medical debt and then uses charitable donations to forgive old, outstanding debts for pennies on the dollar.”
In her video, Zames explains her inspiration: Her younger sister suddenly fell ill and was rushed to the hospital, ultimately leaving her family with some $150,000 in medical bills. The Zames had health insurance, but still were stuck with a $30,000 deductible.
So Zames launched Project Eraser, a campaign to erase medical debt “for people who would never be able to themselves.” Zames’ goal was to raise $15,000. She beat that goal, reaching $20,000, which — with RIP Medical Debt’s help — translated into the $6.7MM payoff.
Zames’ site states: “Thank you for visiting the donation page for Project Eraser! After learning about the devastating impact that medical debt has on struggling families, I felt compelled to take action. Please take a moment to watch the videos below to learn more about me and how you can help families in need. All donations will make a tremendous difference in the lives of Americans who have suffered medically, and are now suffering financially.”
As James told Syracuse.com: “I was definitely blown away to hit $20,000. I was not expecting that at all. I don’t think I realized the impact one person can really have.”
For more information on the issues surrounding medical debt, please contact RIP Medical Debt.