Local Charity Helps People Seeking Medical Debt Relief
Three local high school students have launched Pensacola Debt Sharks, with the goal of raising $10,000 in order to forgive $1 million in medical debt held by people in the Mobile and Pensacola areas who can’t afford to pay it.
Samir Boussarhane, who along with Joshua Williams and Falen McClellan cofounded the charity as a community service project, says he got the idea from watching the TV show Last Week Tonight. Host John Oliver modeled the concept by donating a $15 million-dollar medical debt portfolio to RIP Medical Debt, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that buys debt and then works directly with health care providers to forgive it.
“This project is the first of its kind to be done in our area, and we’ve planned it so that it will have a large impact on the community,” Boussarhane says. So far, Pensacola Debt Sharks has raised more than $600, with which it will donate to RIP Medical Debt to relieve some $105,000 in local medical debt.
Much like mortgages, outstanding medical debt often is bundled into portfolios for sale on the secondary debt market, he explains. Through sophisticated data analytics, the staff at RIP searches those portfolios to pinpoint medical debts most in need of relief. They then negotiate to purchase the debt at pennies on the dollar—rates typically available only to large organizations in the debt-buying industry. Once the medical debt is purchased, RIP then forgives and abolishes it, and informs the debtors that they are forever free from that debt. Applicants must meet stringent financial standards, and debt forgiveness is not guaranteed.
To be considered for medical debt relief, visit RIPMedicalDebt.org/get-help/. To help others find debt relief through Pensacola Debt Sharks, contact Boussarhane at 850-485-9910.