Survey Reveals Extent of Medical Debt Burdens Placed on Americans

More than 50% of all Americans owe some amount of healthcare debt, and more than 20% owe at least $10,000, according to the results of a survey that were published last week by AffordableHealthcare.com. Making the data even more striking was the fact than 61% of respondents who say they have health insurance through their employers still carry some amount of medical debt. Forty-four percent of respondents said their medical debts are being worked by a collection agency.

One-third of the respondents expect they will die still owing some of what they currently owe in medical debts, according to the report.

The number one source of incurring medical debt is visits to the emergency room, according to the survey. ER visits were cited by 44% of respondents as the source of their medical debt. Hospitalization, COVID-19 treatments, and diagnostic tests were the next three most-popular sources of medical debt.

Medical debt is keeping nearly half of Americans from buying a house and saving for retirement, according to the survey.

More than 40% of those with medical debt are on some form of payment plan to repay it, while 25% are negotiating the amount of their bills. Others are using credit cards, borrowing money, or working multiple jobs. More than 15% said they are actively not paying it, and 14% said their medical debts are forcing them to declare bankruptcy this year.

Fifty-six percent of individuals with health insurance are carrying medical debt, compared with 59% of individuals that do not have health insurance.

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