Strike Debt, the offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement launched to fight corporate greed and corruption, has abolished $1.1 million in medical debt for more than 1,000 people, it announced Friday. The group is a welcome effort to fight on behalf of millions of Americans who find themselves drowning in debt while trying to simply pay for the essentials, like an education or healthcare. Now, in America, it is impossible to get sick or go to college without seriously considering owing someone thousands of dollars in the process.
In a statement, Strike Debt said that the way they achieved their goal was by buying emergency room debts for pennies on the dollar and then instead of pursuing the people to collect their money, they simply wiped out the customers debt forgiving them. This allows them to help people with debt relief at a far greater magnitude than they could if they were paying fresh debts.
Banks, hospitals, lenders or other companies sell off debts that they are owed, that they have little chance of collecting on, to debt buyers or collectors. These debts are often sold at much lower price than the original debt. Then its up to the debt buyer to try to claim the money from the debtor.
This new method of helping people by Strike Debt, called “Rolling Jubilee,” is to challenge the “predatory” lending system, according to its website. Strike Debt has planned a week of action March 16–23 in response to what it calls a “healthcare emergency.”
A majority of personal bankruptcies in the United States are linked to medical bills, with 75 percent of people declaring bankruptcy even though they have health insurance, Strike Debt’s mission is to stop this happening by striking the debt altogether.
According the Strike Debt, “Our privatized health care system buries ordinary people in debt all to enrich the 1%.”
There are numerous studies showing that even though the United States has some of the most expensive drugs in the world, our healthcare is not better than many other countries. Strike debt has paid off debts for 1,064 people, which they erased completely. This amounts to about $900 in debt per person. The people are randomly selected and will receive notices saying that their debt has been forgiven.
“The basic premise is simple: people shouldn’t have to go into debt for an education, because they need medical care, or because they have to put food on the table during hard times,” Occupy’s website says.
A telethon and variety show called “The People’s Bailout,” was the launching of Strike Debt’s campaign, held in November in New York. It was aimed at raising money to buy defaulted debts, such as unpaid student loans and medical bills, and erase them.