TAMPA, Fla. — Medical debt plagues millions of Americans, including one in three families in the Tampa Bay area.
Health policy experts say medical debt shatters the lives of patients and their families. It’s the cause of more than half of all bankruptcies and has even forced some local critically ill patients to choose between paying for life-saving medications and death.
“It’s a terrible mess,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, a public health professor at the University of South Florida. “It’s probably the single force following the illness and treatment that causes families to lose their homes.”
Experts estimate Americans owe $1 trillion in medical debt and buying that debt has become big business.
How it works:
Hospitals and medical providers sell your debt to professional bill collectors for just pennies on the dollar.
Then, those bill collectors go after you for every dollar you owe – not what they paid. And they’ll use any means they can to collect – robo-bullying, threatening letters and in some cases, taking you to court.
↓ WATCH HOW IT WORKS↓
Starting Monday, ABC Action News will show you how you can negotiate down that debt. We are also using our own money to pay off $1.6 million in medical debt for people in the Tampa Bay area.
Join us starting 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19.