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'Occupy' offspring works to provide medical debt relief

There are few things in life that are certain. The old saying, of course, is that death and taxes are the only two things we can be sure of. If there is one thing that we in Arkansas and the rest of the country have come to learn in the last few years, it is that we can find ourselves over a barrel due to unforeseen circumstances.

Often times the issue is an unexpected illness that results in a sudden onslaught of unmanageable medical debt. For some, the options of either Chapter 7 of Chapter 13 bankruptcy deserve to be considered. This is something that should always be done with the help of an experienced attorney, so that all alternatives can be explored and measured for their effectiveness.

One alternative that has been getting some media attention lately has been a program of medical debt forgiveness. It's the brainchild of a group of former Occupy Wall Street activists whose organization is known as Strike Debt. The group recently announced that it has struck a blow for consumers by erasing more than $1 million in existing delinquent medical bills. The group says its effort is one step in a process of creating a world based on the common good, as opposed to Wall Street profit.

The way they were able to pull off their debt forgiveness was by taking up a collection. They raised money from various supporter sources and spent some $21,000 to buy up overdue bills that would normally have been purchased by collection agencies. Creditors accepted a payback of pennies on the dollar. Some 1,000 debtors saw their bills simply eliminated. The average amount granted each person was about $900.

Such forms of debt relief are surely a blessing, but they don't exist on a scale large enough to meet the needs of all who need the help. For those still seeking help, consultation with an attorney is a good first step to take.

Source: CNN Money, "Occupy offshoot forgives $1 million in random people's debt," Blake Ellis, March 15, 2013

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