Why Physicians Need to Read "The Patient, The Doctor and The Bill Collector"

The Patient, The Doctor and The Bill Collector: An Obamacare and Medical Debt Collections Survival Guide.

Today's independent physician practices and even hospitals are locked into a system which contributes not only to the financial and emotional pain of the people they were called upon to heal, but to delivering the most expensive care in the civilized world.

Given that reality, we know why a patient would want to have a survival guide at hand, but why should a medical provider be interested in this book?

It is the only one-stop reference which helps the doctor understand - in the context of the financial health of his practice - how Obamacare's "unintended consequences" will impact his survival and what they need to do about it.  A few key take-aways:

* fewer visits to his/her office due to high deductibles and co-pays.  This is exacerbated by patients not taking prescribed medicines because of having to choose between putting food on the table or filling a prescription.

* the painful truth as to how they contribute, in their own need for financial survival, to 60% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S.

* an insatiable search for profits up and down the industry food chain creates higher-prices and a non-competitive market (i.e., 60% of all dialysis  centers are owned by two publicly-traded companies). Where is the exit?

* the insurance industry will continue to extract fees and other costs from the doctor to erode his income.  They need as much protection from insurance and Big Pharma as the patient.

* the debt collections industry contributes to the poisoning of the patient-doctor relationship without delivering the financial satisfaction the doctor is seeking, i.e., getting the money while still maintaining the relationship. Their industry studies show that agencies collect on average less than 8 cents on every dollar assigned them.

* special interests control and influence congress to their personal benefit, the result of which will be driving the doctor out of business and the patient into medically-induced poverty. 

Co-author Robert E. Goff, executive director of the University Physicians Network in New York City, and I know the inside story of medical debt.  Each of us have more than 40 years of experience in the healthcare industry.  

Robert's role has  been to teach his members to employ their "heart" as well as their "head" to secure maximum patient satisfaction and along with a healthy business.  My role as a third party has been to step in when that relationship was lost and account recovery efforts were necessary.

Medical debt collections: a problem that is accelerating

Think of these statistics.  More than 64 million Americans struggle to pay medical bills.  More than 15 million of them will deplete their savings in the process.  Our health insurance security blanket is riddled with holes and surrounded by traps for the unwary. 

Our book provides the solutions and a call to action.  Something must be done, can be done - and you need to understand why they are not being done.  There is lots of encouragement to those who want to answer this call.

On our part, not satisfied with laying bare the perils of the current system by way of The Patient, The Doctor and The Bill Collector, we devised a bold solution:  Abolish Unpaid and Unpayable Medical Debt!

Along with collections industry veteran, Craig Antico, we launched a nonprofit, RIP Medical Debt, which will work nationwide to raise the funds needed to locate, buy and then forgive this debt.

One chapter is devoted to the subject of abolishing medical debt - "Got Debt?  Let's Abolish It."  The plan focuses on debt has has been floating in the debt buying industry for years - even decades - and traveling from bill collector to bill collector until every last possible penny is collected.

We are quite aware that this not a solution to the problems that lie upstream, but it will provide real comfort to those trapped in the world of "Zombie Debt" and can serve as an example of creative thinking applied to this industry's problems.


Jerry Ashton is an acknowledged veteran, gadfly and critic of the excesses of the credit and collections industry. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement’s “Rolling Jubilee” campaign against medical debt, he came out of semiretirement in 2014 to co-found RIP Medical Debt with the goal of removing one billion dollars in unpaid and unpayable personal medical bills from the backs of fellow Americans. In addition to co-authoring the book The Patient, The Doctor and The Bill Collector: An Obamacare and Medical Debt Collections Survival Guide, Jerry blogs at  the Huffington Post and tweets as @RIPMedicalDebt.