A majority of Americans have medical debt, have had that debt placed into collections, have not tried to negotiate to lower the cost of how much they owe, and are not in a payment plan, according to the results of a survey conducted by Debt.com.
The survey only included 1,186 people from all 50 states, but the data is kind of startling, especially the questions about attempting to negotiate a lower payment and the number of individuals who are not in a payment plan.
When asked how much they owe, 32% of the survey’s respondents said they owed between $1,000 and $5,000, nearly twice as high as any other amount. Nearly two-thirds of individuals had less than $5,000 in unpaid debt.
A hospital visit was the most common source of the debt, accounting for nearly 25% of responses, followed by diagnostic tests, like x-rays (22%), and emergency room visits (19%).
Only 35% of individuals said they had tried to negotiate a lower amount to be repaid, and of those who tried, only 27% were successful, according to the survey. More than 36% of respondents said they were on a payment plan to repay their debt.
“We often hear horror stories about chronic conditions or complicated surgical procedures that drive up medical bills to shocking levels,” said Debt.com president Don Silvestri, in a statement. “This survey shows that even smaller amounts can overwhelm your income and savings. The result is a debt collector pursuing you.” Very few Americans know that there are experts who can help them deal with medical debt negotiations and collectors.