In an act that can only be described as bold & ballsy and probably hugely gentlemanly, HBO’s John Oliver (Last Week Tonight) bought $15 million in medical debt and, rather than collect on it, forgave it all.
The move was part of a lengthy and in-depth look at the shadowy world of American debt collection, in which debt-acquisition firms buy bad debts at a fraction of their value in order to cash in on the collection process. Sure, some bad debt is just that: people who didn’t pay credit card bills while living a life they can’t afford. But in this case, Oliver and company bought medical debt: debts people racked up for emergencies and procedures for which they weren’t insured.
How’d they do it? They simply registered a debt-acquisition firm called Central Asset Recovery Professionals (or CARP, like the bottom-feeding fish). The registration cost them $50, and they were soon offered $15 million in medical debt for less than $60,000.
So they bought it.
And then they forgave it all, in what Oliver announced was the biggest TV giveaway of all time.
Take that, Oprah!