Number of Americans Having Problems Paying Medical Bills Dropped in 2021 Thanks to Pandemic Relief: CDC

Fewer American families had issues paying their medical bills in 2021, according to data released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, that means that 10.5 million fewer people were in families that had problems paying their medical debts, a noticeable drop from two years prior.

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

The report doesn’t use a standard for determining what it means to have problems paying medical debts, but asks consumers, “In the past 12 months, did you or anyone in the family have problems paying or were unable to pay any medical bills? Include bills for doctors, dentists, hospitals, therapists, medication, equipment, nursing home, or home care.” The report also does not include statistics detailing how much medical debt those families are carrying.

Researchers point to efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide relief to consumers, such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, and the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which may have helped mitigate the impact of people having problems paying their medical bills. Whether the number of individuals having problems paying their medical bills now starts to go back up, because those programs have ended and the economy is not as robust as it was, will need to be monitored.

Demographically, women were more likely than men to have problems paying their medical debts, according to the report. As well, families with children under the age of 17 had more problems than adults and senior citizens.

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