For the third year in a row, Debt.com polled over 500 Americans about their medical debt. Respondents owe significantly less this year but are struggling to pay off even the smallest bills.
Nearly 6 in 10 agreed that “inflation has made it harder to pay my medical bills.” Now, over a quarter say that they’re skipping medical care because of their debt.
“We tend to think of inflation as annoying instead of dangerous,” Debt.com President Don Silvestri says. “But inflation means more than higher food and gas prices. It pervades everything we spend money on – including our physical health.”
Americans owe less than they did last year – 80 percent owed over $500, in 2022 only 40 percent owe as much. In fact, most respondents (59 percent) owe less than $500. This may sound like good news, but there’s a sad reason behind it.
Respondents are struggling twice as much to pay for basic medical care and are taking on debt for things like doctor’s visits and prescription medication.
Over a quarter of Americans are now skipping out on care because of their medical debt.
Below are more key findings from Debt.com’s research…
Over 4 in 10 have outstanding medical bills
More than a quarter have had their medical bills sent to collections
Americans are avoiding medical care because of their debt
Inflation has made it harder for most Americans to pay off their medical debt
Most adults are not on a payment plan
The finances of many Americans are so fragile, even a few thousand dollars in medical expenses can drive them from the doctor to the debt collector.
During the peak of the pandemic last year, Debt.com conducted its first-ever medical debt survey. Only 15 months apart, the results changed significantly.
In 2020, just under half (46 percent) of Americans said they had medical debt. This year? It’s up to an even 50 percent.
The number of Americans who had medical debt in collections dropped a full 10 percent over the past year – from 56 percent in 2020 to 46 percent this year.
The pandemic may have reshaped the world but one fact remains: Americans struggle to pay medical bills.
“Long after this awful pandemic finally ends, medical debt will still be here,” says Don Silvestri, president of Debt.com. “There’s no easy vaccine for medical debt. It will take help from federal and state lawmakers, and more education for consumers.”
Below are the biggest year-over-year changes Debt.com found quizzing Americans on their medical debt…
Do you have outstanding medical bills or medical debt?
Have your medical bills been sent to collections?
Were you successful negotiating your debt?
How much do you owe in medical debt?
What is the primary source of your medical bills?
Methodology: Debt.com surveyed 541 people and asked nine questions related to their medical debt. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. The survey was conducted from Sept. 7, 2021 to Sept. 28, 2021.
Methodology: Debt.com surveyed 542 adults and asked 11 questions about their experiences with natural disasters. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC, and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. The survey was conducted on September 2, 2022.