Medical debt in the USA

America is the only industrialized nation in the world with personal medical debt. In fact, medical debt is the #1 cause of consumer bankruptcy in the country. Rising healthcare costs and endless bills are leaving families with nowhere to turn. Medical
costs cause a serious financial problem for 26% percent of American adults each year (NPR/Harvard 2016) and 40% of Americans have lingering medical bill problems or outstanding medical debt (Commonwealth Fund, 2011). For families already under the stress of illness, medical bills are devastating. In addition to amplifying stress and mental health issues, there is the very real possibility of wage garnishment, eviction, foreclosure, and bankruptcy.

Facts about medical debt

  •  42.9 million Americans have unpaid medical bills, which creates an adverse impact on debtor patients, physicians, and hospitals (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
  • Six in 10 of both insured and uninsured people say they have difficulty in paying other bills as a result of medical debt. Over a third were unable to pay for food, heat or housing because of medical bills. (Kaiser Family Foundation & New York
    Times)
  • Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults under age 65, or 116 million people, had medical bill problems or debt, went without needed care because of cost, were uninsured for a time or were under insured — insured but had high out-of-pocket
    medical expenses or deductibles relative to income. (Kaiser Family Foundation & New York Times)
  • Medical debt contributes to more than 60 percent of the bankruptcies in the U.S. Until satisfied, debt lingers on a person’s credit report to negatively impact their ability to buy a home, get a loan or even gain employment. (The American Journal
    of Medicine)

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