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TV comedian writes off $15m in US medical debt

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i3228 (Published 08 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3228
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. Seattle

In a television show highlighting the practices of the US debt buying industry, the comedian John Oliver wrote off nearly $15m (£10.3m; €13.2m) in medical debt owed by nearly 9000 people.1

The British comedian said that the move was the largest television giveaway in history, almost doubling that by Oprah Winfrey, the daytime talk show host who, in 2004, gave a new car to everyone in her studio audience at an estimated cost of $8m.

Medical debt is common in the United States, where 20% of working age people …

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