Betters Quest to Retire $16M of Medical Debt for American Patients

Its a problem that I wish never existed in this country, and that is unfortunately poised to become less forgiving if more than 20 million Americans lose coverage, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates.But medical debt afflicts more than one out of every four working-age Americans, who say they or someone else in their household has had problems paying medical bills in the last year.We at Better are committed toward being effective advocates for patients.

Betters Quest to Retire $16M of Medical Debt for American Patients 1

Were a technology company that shepherds people through an extraordinarily complex system to get their out-of-network medical bills reimbursed from insurance providers even if it takes stacks upon stacks of documentation or hours of phone calls.We do it so that you dont have to.We believe in this so strongly that we are spending our initial revenues as a startup not on ads or on marketing but on buying $16 million worth of medical debt.

John Oliver is the one who inspired this idea after he initiated one of the largest TV giveaways in history last summer when he created a vehicle to purchase $15 million of medical debt, relieving patients of an additional financial burden that so often comes at a time when people are in their most vulnerable state. This is very much a personal mission. Both I and many of our team members at Better have come face-to-face with the complexity and opacity of the current system.

One of our advocates for patients, Ashley Helmetag, endured a multi-year ordeal after a botched jaw surgery cost her several teeth and left her unable to work as a meteorologist.It totally ruined my life for the two years in between the surgery and later operations to fix that work, she said. I was left so twisted and crooked that I was in a lot of pain.

It impacted my work with the Weather Service, where I had to give public presentations. I was drooling all over myself.She would eventually have to switch health insurance providers to one that would pay for corrective work and not deem it a pre-existing condition.

Betters Quest to Retire $16M of Medical Debt for American Patients 2

Another one of our team members, Sheila Bhardwaj, who works on growth, has had occasional asthma attacks throughout her life. What she didnt know about her insurance coverage and local San Francisco hospitals was that not all of them would be considered in-network.I made a fatal incorrect assumption.

Even though the San Francisco General was two blocks away and I could hardly get a word out without coughing, it wouldnt be considered in-network by United Healthcare, she said. Her bills totaled more than $2,000 for two separate attacks under multiple different billing codes.What we now know as patient advocates at Better, however, is that if the episodes were coded as medical emergencies, she wouldve gotten a much different and less costly outcome even though it was outside of her network.

Its bureaucratic minutiae like this that makes the difference between a bill thats affordable and one that is a deep financial shock. One last story is that of a personal friend, Angela Muse Williams, whose husband suffered burns over more than 57 percent of his body after he rushed into a burning building to save their dogs. The tragedy happened just two weeks after she had requested that her employer add him to her policy as her legal partner.

That request hadnt been processed yet. But out of pure chance, a volunteer at the non-profit she worked for happened to have a job in the claims department at her exact health insurance provider. She had a special connection on the inside who vouched for her and her partners credibility.

And so, while he was in a coma, she would receive stacks of bills here and there for anywhere from $1,500 to $30,000 at a time.Im an admin. A paralegal.

I deal with nitpicky paperwork all the time. But I cant imagine what it would be like for someone who is experiencing one of the worst times of their life and doesnt have this skill set. I did not have the emotional bandwidth or brainpower to deal with all of this paperwork.

At the end, her bills one of which is copied below totaled into the millions. But because she had someone advocating for her on the inside, the end dollar amount was zero.Its in this spirit that were taking our initial revenues as a company and buying up millions of medical debt for cents on the dollar, to relieve others of this financial burden.

Let us know your story and how we can help.

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