When it comes to carrying medical debt, the middle class is the one that is getting hit the hardest, according to a report released yesterday, which also revealed that minorities are more likely to carry medical debt that other racial groups. Middle-class families are less likely than lower-income families to delay seeing a doctor and are less likely to qualify for charity care or programs like Medicaid, making them more vulnerable to medical debt, according to the report.
Middle-income families are also less likely to have the disposable incomes required to manage health insurance plans with higher deductibles than those earning more. The report defines the middle class as individuals or families earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year. Nearly 17 million people — about 23.5% of people in that income bracket are carrying medical debt, compared with 22% of people in the low-income bracket and 13% in the high-income bracket, according to the report, which was released by Third Way.
Interestingly enough, individuals in the middle-income bracket are more likely to have medical debts regardless of the level of education they attained, their age, race, whether they have children or not, whether they have health insurance or not, and regardless of where they live across the country.
Nearly 40% of African-American middle-class individuals are carrying medical debt, compared with 29% in the low-income bracket and 21.5% in the high-income bracket. More than 25% of Hispanic middle-class individuals have medical debt, compared with 20.3% in the low-income bracket and 18.3% in the high-income bracket.
Third Way’s solution is to abolish healthcare debt for individuals with adequate medical coverage because it would encourage more people to sign up for coverage, the group claims, while also refinancing bad debt with a provider tax.