Most Americans are one medical emergency away from financial ruin

Reporter: Chris Cifatte
Published: Updated:

It’s been said that a majority of Americans live one medical emergency away from financial ruin.

That scenario’s all too true for one Lehigh Acres woman who reached out to WINK News.

Suzan Ambrosino agreed to help WINK put a face on the problem of medical debt right here in Southwest Florida.

Living in pain and dealing with debilitating debt are two everyday realities for Ambrosino, “Still some pain, especially with the rain and stuff. I have screws and rods and a cage in my back.”

She had to have major back surgery last year, calling it, “A nightmare. Extremely depressing.” to the tune of $140,000.

While out on unpaid leave, she was let go from her job, “Had the surgery, was in the hospital for a week. Came home on labor day and hurricane irma hit,”Ambrosino said.

Now, the bills have piled up.

Ambrosino is part of a disturbing statistic.

SERIES: Erasing Medical Debt

In Southwest Florida nearly one-in-four adults have medical bills in collection, totaling nearly $750 million.

What’s perhaps more disturbing, if a bill isn’t paid, it can be sold again and again for pennies on the dollar and the collection letters and phone calls just keep coming.

Debt collectors can collect on it for almost ten years, and that’s why RIP Medical Debt is trying to stop that long tail of abuse.

RIP uses donated money to buy old debt for pennies on the dollar.

WINK News has teamed up with the charity and has paid $12,500 to buy the first $1 million in medical debt, and we’re asking you to help raise $10,000 to wipe out a second million dollars for people here in Southwest Florida. $10 wipes out $1,000 in debt.

WINK News is accepting donations through our nonprofit partner, Southwest Florida Community Foundation. You too can be a WINK Hero for Hope and help erase medical local medical debt. Clicking here to donate now.

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