My Birthday Challenge: Donate to Wipe Out Medical Debt, Get a Brand New Story

(tl;drDonate to RIP Medical Debt, which forgives medical debt, then come here and tell me in the comments how much you donated. If the amount donated reaches $5k, I write brand new short story.)

RIP Medical Debt is a non-profit organization that buys up the medical debt of people who can ill afford it and then forgives it — wipes it off their slate forever. And because RIP buys that medical debt for pennies on the dollar, every dollar they spend to buy that debt wipes out up to $100 of medical debt someone else owes.

The way the US does health services is bluntly awful and needs to be reformed drastically. But until that happens, forgiving the medical debt of people who can’t service it themselves seems like a decent thing to do — and if every dollar that goes to that wipes out a multiple of that debt, so much the better.

I have a birthday tomorrow, and to celebrate that, Krissy and I today donated $1,000 to RIP Medical Debt, which will wipe out up to $100k worth of medical debt. Whose medical debt? We don’t know. It’ll be a surprise to them as much as to us. But whoever they are, they will have that much less to worry about financially, and their lives will be that much better. And that’s worth celebrating.

If you feel like being in a giving mood for my birthday, I encourage you to also donate to RIP Medical Debt — and in fact, I want to make it a challenge. Here’s the challenge: Go donate whatever amount to RIP Medical today (May 9) and tomorrow (May 10), then come here and share in the comments to this post how much you donated. If the total amount donated reaches $5,000, I will write a brand new short story which I will publish here*. If the total amount reaches $10,000, I will a) do an audio version of the short story, b) donate an additional $1,000. If it gets above that, well… I don’t know what I’ll do but I’ll figure out something.

Any bit you donate — no donation too small (or too large!) — will go to the tally. We’ll be on the honor system here (I’m not going to demand you post a receipt), so be honest about the amount, please. The point is to help people get out from under medical debt; the short story is just a nice bonus. Also, in the US, the donation is tax-deductible, so that’s pretty great too.

What I’m saying is: For my birthday, give the gift of medical debt relief, and get a gift of a short story I’ve written because you did something good for someone who needed it. That’s the deal. Hopefully it’s a deal you can get behind.

Once more: The link to donate to RIP Medical Debt. And thank you.

(* Story to be written after I complete my currently-being-written novel The Last Emperox, so probably in June. Story to be at least 2,000 words, but probably not more than 10,000, although who knows. Audio version likely to be me reading here at my desk, but I have audio software so I can edit it to sound good.)

226 Comments on “My Birthday Challenge: Donate to Wipe Out Medical Debt, Get a Brand New Story”

  1. Just tossed in $5.00. I like the idea of crowdfunding this sort of thing. I loved it when John Oliver did it on HBO a few years back (though he spent a bit more than I did).

  2. I just donated $20, and my employer matched that with another $20. Count that how you will.

    (Not sure if the first comment went through, if so, sorry).

  3. $20.+ bank fee. What a great charity!! Looking forward to the story. I’m open to anything, but hoping to hear about Kiva Lagos’s first swear word at the age of 18 months.

  4. $256.62, for your birthday – Have a great day tomorrow and this is great!

  5. I donated $100 plus the bank fee and am checking to see if my company will match

  6. $51.33, not including bank fee offset. (Eliminates amount my current insurance has paid for over $21K in list price prescriptions.)

  7. $5 plus bank fee. What a great cause / idea! And happiest of birthdays to you, Scalzi.

  8. $20.00! Also in honor of a family friend who just passed away.

  9. Donated $25.00 and the company I work for will match the donation; so 50 bucks total.

  10. $50 plus bank fee – have a wonderful birthday, and Hanks for making someone else’s day much better, too!

  11. $5.33 (the .33 is for bank fees?) for Where Needed Most.

    I wonder if this is one of the charities AmazonSmile supports. If so, every time you buy something on Amazon, they will make a (tiny, but still) donation.

    Happy birthday. And thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  12. Fifty bucks for fifty years. Plus bank fees.

    Happy birthday, Mr. Scalzi, and congratulations as you embark on the second half of your first century.

  13. Hey John. Just donated $10.00. You are amazing for using your site for things like this. Just (Kiva Engaged) fucking amazing.

  14. $25.00. Thank you for doing this. I’m glad to know about this organization.

  15. $5.00 and $500 in debt gone. Great idea, I work in the industry and wasn’t familiar with this organization.

  16. $5 now. For Christmas the last few years, I have given my family (multi-gen) something to help others. (Last year, it was micro-loan gift cards.) The majority of the adults I do this for are in the health care industry. So, I have set a reminder for Black Friday to spend another $200-$500 at Wipe Out Medical Debt for those family members instead of tchotchkes that will be lost in a day. Thanks for promoting a wonderful cause.

  17. 50$ – great idea for a charity, thank you fo letting us know

  18. $50 (+$1.49 bank fee). Thanks for posting about this cause – I didn’t know about it and I’m relieved that it is is available.

  19. Donated $100 – this is a great idea and I’m glad to be able to help.

  20. $25.00 donated AND I submitted it for and employer match – so $50 from me and my employer

  21. You know, as a libertarian but one of the bleeding heart bent… I can get behind this. $100 plus bank fees just donated. Happy birthday!

  22. 87.00!! good on ya, mate! Dedicated donation to my Navy Veteran brother-in-law JR McCormick who recently returned to the universe in a different form, and may encounter one of your characters. Love.

  23. Happy Birthday! $5.33. I don’t have much right now…

    For the curious, the 33 cents is a transaction processing fee that goes to the “donation processor,” which, because it is 33 cents, is probably Network for Good. That is their fee, and it is an unusual amount, and it is low, relatively speaking, for the industry. I have worked with their software, but not for them directly.

  24. $20.00 (+ .72)

    Happy Birthday, John. Thank you for sharing the site. I’m going to see what recurring amount I can give in the future.

  25. $100

    What a great idea, thanks for suggesting this. Looking forward to the story!

  26. UPDATE:

    We’ve passed $11k in donations, which means I’ll be posting a short story and an audio version and Krissy and I have donated another $1k. So all told, at this moment, RIP Medical Debt will be able to forgive up to $1.3 million in US medical debt because of us.

    You folks are awesome.

    So, and also, if we hit $15k and $20k in donations, I’ll add on additional cool things I’ll do for each of those markers. What? I don’t know yet. But I promise they’ll be worth it (aside from, you know, the inherent value of erasing other people’s medical debt).

    Thank you everyone! This is a really excellent birthday.

  27. Donated $50 (plus the $1.49 bank fee) and once the receipt comes to my email I’ll fill out the forms to get my employer to match. Happy 50th!

  28. $50 from someone who is grateful every day for having great medical insurance. Happy Birthday!

  29. $25, and Happy Birthday!
    A noble cause… but I wish we lived in a civilized country where this wasn’t necessary.

  30. $20 + bank fees.

    Thank you, have a wonderful birthday, and good luck with the writing.

  31. I’d never heard of this fund/organization before.
    I’ll donate.
    Happy birthday. 🎂👏🏻👏🏻

  32. Hi, I just donated $25.85. Do the bank fees count towards the grand total? And oh yes, happy half century birthday.

  33. Pardon if I’m repeating here. Just donated $25 + bank fees. Happy birthday for a great cause!

  34. $57 plus fees. Since this is a birthday fundraiser, and I turned 57 two days ago, it made sense to give that amount.

  35. I donated $500 and my employer matches it. Happy birthday. I hope you get everything you want and more.

  36. Added $25 plus fees to your tally! (I tried to post this earlier, but it gave me an error, sorry if it’s a duplicate.)

  37. $25.85 Thanks for the link. I’ve heard about these guys and think it’s wonderful what they are doing. Medical debt is a leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.A. which is unforgiveable.

  38. I’ve closed up the pledge drive here, and total reported donated (plus or minus processing fees, and including employee matches) is $16,607. Add in the $2,000 from me and Krissy, and among us all we donated $18,607, which will wipe out up $1,860,700 in US medical debt.

    Also, we passed the $15,000 mark, so I have to think of a suitably goofy thing to do to fulfill the obligation there. Maybe I’ll have Krissy or Athena suggest something.

    Thank you everyone who donated. You’ve made this the best 50th birthday a guy could ever have. You are all the best.

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