CFPB Examines Debt Issues for People Living in Appalachia

Individuals living in the 13 states that make up the Appalachian region are more likely to have medical debt than individuals living in the rest of the United States and those with medical debts have double the delinquency rates on other credit products, according to a research report issued yesterday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The report focused on Appalachia because one-third of the 26 million people living in the region are in rural counties, compared with just 14% of the rest of the United States. And, more than 2 million Appalachians live in what are known as Persistent Poverty Communities, which are defined as counties that have had poverty rates of 20% or higher for the past 30 years.

A copy of the report can be accessed by clicking here.

Nearly one-in-four Appalachians are carrying some amount of medical debt, according to the report, compared with just 17% of the rest of the country. And those individuals with medical debt in the region have more than double the rate of delinquency on mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and student loans compared to people without medical debt. This means that for companies attempting to collect on unpaid medical debts from someone in the region, there is more than likely someone else also attempting to collect on another unpaid debt from the same individual.

Interestingly enough, the high school graduation rate for individuals in Appalachia is higher than the rest of the country, although the percentage of individuals who attended some college is significantly lower than the rest of the country.

Appalachians earn less than the national average, but have lower credit scores, meaning the average interest they are paying is higher, which only exacerbates the problem associated with earning lower incomes.

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