Debt Collection - Final Notice

How Much Do Collection Agencies Pay For Medical Debt?

Medical debt is a significant financial burden for many individuals across the globe, and particularly in the United States, where medical expenses can be incredibly high. Often, hospitals and healthcare providers sell their uncollected debts to collection agencies specializing in healthcare debt, who then try to collect the debt from the original debtors. But how much do these agencies actually pay for medical debt, and how does the process work?

Understanding the Debt Buying Industry

Debt collection is a thriving industry, and collection agencies are central to its operation. These agencies are businesses that either collect debts on behalf of a client for a fee or commission or buy debt outright to collect and make a profit. The process of purchasing debt is fairly straightforward: healthcare providers sell their uncollected medical debts, often in large portfolios, to collection agencies, who then seek to collect the debts from the patients.

The Price Collection Agencies Pay For Medical Debt

The price a collection agency pays for medical debt varies significantly based on several factors such as the age of the debt, the type of debt (secured vs unsecured), the debtor’s credit history, and the likely success of debt collection efforts.


Typically, medical debts are unsecured, meaning there is no collateral (like a house or car) backing the debt, making them riskier for collectors. Due to this risk, collection agencies often pay pennies on the dollar for the face value of the debt. As of 2023, it was reported that collection agencies could buy medical debt for as low as one cent to a few cents on the dollar. This means a $1,000 medical bill might be bought by a collection agency for $10 to $50. However, the exact price can vary depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the debt and the collection agency’s valuation model.

The Age of Debt and Its Value

Another critical factor that affects the price of medical debt is its age. The older the debt, the less likely it is to be collected, and therefore, the less it’s worth to a collection agency. Newer debts are more valuable because they are more likely to be successfully collected. As a result, collection agencies will pay more for recent debt compared to old debt.

Profit Margins and Practices

Collection agencies make a profit when they collect more than what they paid for the debt. So, using the above example, if an agency bought a $1,000 debt for $50 and managed to collect the full amount, they would make a substantial profit.

Debt Collection - A Buyer's Guide to Success

Collection agencies employ a variety of tactics to collect the debt, including letters, phone calls, and legal action. However, they are regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in the United States, which protects consumers from abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices. Despite these regulations, collection practices often come under scrutiny for their aggressive nature and the stress they place on individuals already facing financial hardship.

The Role of Non-Profit Organizations

In recent years, non-profit organizations like RIP Medical Debt have stepped into the fray. These organizations buy medical debt portfolios in bulk and forgive the debt, providing much-needed relief to those in debt. They essentially use the same debt purchasing model as collection agencies but use it for philanthropic purposes.

Wrap Up

Collection agencies play a significant role in the debt industry, purchasing medical debt for a fraction of its face value. The price they pay varies, depending largely on factors like the type and age of the debt. While this model allows healthcare providers to recoup some losses from unpaid debts, it has raised questions about the fairness of the system, particularly regarding the pressure it places on patients. This has led to the emergence of non-profit organizations buying and forgiving medical debt, showcasing a different way this system could potentially be used. As we move forward, it will be crucial to explore further changes that can make the process fairer and less burdensome for individuals struggling with medical debt.

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