Debt Angels: Ex-Bill Collectors Erase Strangers’ Medical Debts With John Oliver & Occupy Wall Street
Half of all debt is medical This is Craig Antico. In 2014, he founded RIP Medical Debt with his co-founder Jerry Ashton. We’re a charity that buys medical debt, and we abolish it. You and I are one accident or one illness away from being destroyed financially. Before Jerry and Craig were debt abolishers. They were debt collectors. A job they didn’t necessarily enjoy. I never liked the debt collection business. I was in a family business I ended up starting to make money early–and then it was so hard to not make money anymore, so I stayed in it. As a bill collector, collecting millions of dollars in medical associated bills in my career, now all of a sudden… I’m reformed! I am a predatory giver! We could thank Occupy Wall Street for that. Occupy was a global progressive protest movement centered around social and economic inequality. The first Occupy protest was Occupy Wall Street It started in New York City in Zuccotti Park, right outside of Jerry’s office. I said that looks interesting. I come from the 60s So I wanted to see if this was real and I decided I wanted to search for the heroes. I wanted to find the people that were there that were going to make a difference and I found a lot of them. Then Occupy people noticed that there was a bill collector in their midst. So one day I was asked to attend a meeting of Occupy Wall Street And they did that they had an idea that wanted to run past me. That idea was the rolling jubilee, a crowdfunded effort to raise $50,000 to purchase 1 million dollars of defaulted debt and abolish it. Occupy wanted to know if Jerry thought their plan was a good idea. I didn’t think much of it. A million dollars worth of medical debt in my world isn’t even a rounding error. I think it might be seen as a gesture. They said well, let’s take a look at it through our eyes. If your medical debt were in that portfolio and forgiven, do you think that you would have considered it to be a gesture? And I said, what do you need? What Occupy needed was expertise. They needed people who understood the debt collection industry So Jerry called Craig and together the pair worked with Occupy to make the idea of the rolling jubilee a reality. Instead of raising $50,000 Occupy was able to raise $700,000. That enabled Jerry and Craig to abolish over forty million dollars in medical, student and payday loan debt. But then something unexpected happened. So one day they came up to us and they said well, we’re gonna close it down. We’re going in another direction. And Craig and I looked at each other and we said we can’t let that happen. We were kind of hooked. We said we’re gonna have to do it ourselves. We’ll probably be able to raise two, three, four, five hundred thousand dollars a year like these Occupy Wall Street people did. Wasn’t true. It’s the hardest thing we ever did. Eventually, Jerry and Craig were able to figure out how to raise enough money to start buying and abolishing medical debt. Due in large part to this guy. It is pretty clear by now debt buying is a grimy business and badly needs more oversight, because as it stands any idiot can get into it. And I can prove that to you because I’m an idiot, and we started a debt buying company. Which he used to abolish almost fifteen million dollars worth of debt through RIP. When John Oliver brought us to everybody’s attention What became a serious attempt to make a difference became an amazing movement. We’ve helped over 250,000 people get out of over 600 million dollars in medical debt. So it took us a while to ramp up, but now we’re gonna reach a billion dollars this year, so… watch out! Hey everybody, thank you for watching this Freethink video about RIP Medical Debt. If you like videos like this, check out all our other ones, I think you’ll like those too–and don’t forget to subscribe. See you next time.