Medical debt just got less painful for nearly 9,000 consumers, courtesy of late-night TV host John Oliver.
For nearly 43 million other Americans, it's still a big problem.
During Sunday's "Last Week Tonight," broadcast, Oliver canceled $14,922,261.76 worth of medical debt as part of a segment digging into the billion-dollar debt-buying industry.
Debt buyers purchase delinquent debts from creditors for pennies on the dollar, then make their own attempts to collect.
The pages and pages of consumer complaints about debt collectors in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's database detail problems consumers have faced, including threatening calls, not to mention the so-called zombie collections — bills that were believed to have been settled but resurface for collection.
"In some states, there is a shockingly low barrier of entry into this industry," Oliver said in the segment, noting that some states don't require a license to purchase or collect on debts.
"Essentially that means there are places in this country where you need to fill out less paperwork to start collecting money from people's pockets than you do to collect fish from a [expletive] lake."