Why Earnin is Tackling Medical Bills

Marija Ringwelski
May 22 · 4 min read

As you know, we’re all about fighting financial unfairness at Earnin. We first tackled the antiquated and oppressive two-week pay cycle, but we know there’s another huge burden keeping people down in America: medical bills. Four out of every five Americans live paycheck to paycheck, without the resources to weather financial emergencies, and often, just $500 in healthcare expenses is enough to cause them a financial catastrophe.

Medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy and one of the most common major expenses for millions of people. According to a recent survey, 57% of people have been surprised by an unexpected bill for care that they believed their insurance would cover. And 41% of working-age Americans — 72 million people — are struggling to pay medical bills, or are paying off medical debt. That’s up from 34% in 2005.

Medical bills can impact anyone, at any time. No matter how much someone has in savings, a costly healthcare expense can cause immense financial strain. But people living paycheck to paycheck are the most vulnerable to this risk.

Those problems can quickly spiral, leading hard-working people into a cycle of financial misery that can seem nearly impossible to escape.

Some people’s only option is to avoid doctor’s visits altogether, which saves them money in the short term, but can lead to even more expensive health issues in the future. Then, on top of higher medical bills, they may also have reduced income from missing work due to medical appointments — which exacerbates the cycle.

Every day, people from all walks of life have to make choices which the wealthy never have to grapple with — like having to choose between paying for a doctor’s appointment or the gas they need to drive to work. Over time, the cumulative effect of these financial choices can add up to poor health, negative impact on a job, family tension, and overall unhappiness. None of that is fair.

But here’s the good news — there is a way out. The truth is, many medical bills can be negotiated down or paid in installments, and in some cases, they can even be forgiven in full.

It may seem counterintuitive that medical providers are willing to negotiate their bills, but the fact is the providers want to be paid, and insurance companies take a long time to settle bills. So negotiating a somewhat lower bill can be a quicker path to settling a patient’s balance.

Yet healthcare providers rarely publicize these options, so few people know they exist. We want to ensure that no one in the Earnin community has to face financial hardship as a result of medical expenses. And that no one chooses to forgo healthcare because they’re worried about the expense.

This is why we’re proud to announce HealthAid, our new medical bills negotiation product. Available first to our community in the coming weeks, and later to the public more broadly, HealthAid gives you an ally — a professional trained in medical billing — who can negotiate any unpaid medical, dental, vision, or mental health bill on your behalf, free of charge.

To use HealthAid, all you need to do is get the Earnin app, upload a photo of your unpaid bill, and add your date of birth (or the patient’s date of birth — we can negotiate on behalf of you or a family member). Within two business days, we’ll send you an updated — and likely reduced — statement, along with a proposed repayment plan with the lowest possible bill offered by the provider.

During our beta trial of HealthAid, we were able to find savings for about 90% of people. Based on the savings we have seen up until now, we estimate that our HealthAid negotiators can save community members an average of $100 per medical bill. And the higher the outstanding balance, the more likely it is that we can negotiate a discount. In one extraordinary case, we even got a patient’s $48,000 bill fully forgiven. While we don’t expect to see this every day, we’re proud that we were able to keep one person from otherwise inevitable bankruptcy.

There are no fees and we don’t take percentages of the discounts. It’s that simple. If we’ve been able to negotiate a discount for you, you can thank us by paying any amount you choose, if you choose to at all.

The most important thing we can do as a company is to assist our community in fighting financial hardship, and unfairness, by giving folks the tools that allow them to keep more of the money they work for in their own pockets. And our community-supported model means that you choose what you would like to pay, and those tips keep us in business.

Join our waitlist to be notified when HealthAid is available, and soon we could be negotiating a discount on a medical bill for you.

earnin

Earnin’s mission is to build a financial system that works for people. We’re guided by a commitment to put people first, a model that allows people to pay what they choose, and a community that supports each other.

Marija Ringwelski

Written by

Healthcare Product Lead at Earnin where we’re negotiating medical bills and building a financial system that works for people.

earnin

earnin

Earnin’s mission is to build a financial system that works for people. We’re guided by a commitment to put people first, a model that allows people to pay what they choose, and a community that supports each other.