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Bonus - Champions of Charity: Allison Sesso: Eradicating Medical Debt

Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy Podcast

Release Date: 08/25/2021

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OVERVIEW:

Jason A. Duprat, Entrepreneur, Healthcare Practitioner, and Host of the Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy podcast chats with Allison Sesso, Executive Director of RIP Medical Debt. She talks about the issue of medical debt, how RIP Medical Debt was established, and what model it operates on. She also offers advice to people who want to donate to a nonprofit or are looking to start one.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Allison is a born and bred New Yorker with a background in political science and public administration. She worked with 200 nonprofits during her tenure at the Human Services Council of New York. She joined RIP Medical Debt in January 2020—just before the pandemic started.
  • People don’t have enough money to pay their medical bills, but the healthcare industry expects them to pay these bills out of their pocket.
  • We tend to spend a lot on healthcare but not on the social determinants of health.
  • Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton leveraged their expertise in debt collection and started RIP Medical Debt in 2014. The company has a “debt engine” that pairs donor dollars to the available debt. 
  • A key donation came from MacKenzie Scott, one of the richest women in the world, who generously donated $50 million.  
  • One in five Americans has medical debt. The total amount of medical debt is around $1 trillion and it’s the top cause of bankruptcy.
  • Allison talks about how COVID affected the healthcare system and medical debt. She also shares her thoughts on the Affordable Care Act.
  • About 70% of hospitals do not sell their debt at the risk of getting a bad reputation.
  • 501(c)(3) organizations do not pay taxes and there are strict rules that must be followed. A few of these include you must have a board of directors to oversee operations. You cannot support for-profit entities and you must remain nonpartisan.
  • Allison shares the difficulties of fundraising and what people should do when trying to raise money.
  • John Oliver, host of the Last Week Tonight show on HBO did an episode on medical debt and mentioned RIP Medical Debt. The day after, their website crashed and donations skyrocketed. 
  • You can’t be shy about asking for money. Articulate the vision and how the money will be used. If you’re excited about the mission, people will get behind your charity. 
  • Allison warns people against starting a charity on their own. There are nonprofit associations—within each state and at a national scale—that can help.


3 KEY POINTS:

  1. RIP Medical Debt is a charitable mission-driven organization that uses donations to buy portfolios of bad debt from hospitals. It’s abolished $4.9 billion of debt to date.
  2. Be aware of nonprofits with unusually low overhead rates, and take note of who’s donated to the charity you’re interested in.
  3. If you want to start a 501(c)(3), make sure your idea is new. Know what you’re getting into and prepare yourself for the work that needs to be done.

 

TWEETABLE QUOTES:

“Starting a nonprofit is very labor-intensive and it takes time.” - Allison Sesso

“Keep being motivated by how you’re going to change the world.” - Allison Sesso

RESOURCES:

RIP Medical Debt website: https://ripmedicaldebt.org/

RIP Medical Debt on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RIPMedicalDebt/

RIP Medical Debt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RIPMedicalDebt

RIP Medical Debt on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ripmedicaldebt

End Medical Debt book by Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico: https://www.amazon.com/End-Medical-Debt-Unpayable-Healthcare/dp/0989224120

National Council of Nonprofits website: https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/

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