More than 6 in 10 Americans Knowingly Go Into Medical Debt: Survey
- Medical debt is an inescapable burden for many Americans, according to a Healthcare.com survey.
- Over one in three Americans aged 18 and over carries medical debt, and more than half of balances exceed $1,000.
- However, less than 50% of patients make any attempts to negotiate bills, the survey findings show.
Healthcare.com survey shows that Americans are still grappling with increasing medical debt burden with more than 6 in 10 U.S. adults with overdue bills received health care knowing it would sink them deeper into debt.
The findings also revealed that more than 1 and 3 Americans aged 18 years and above carry medica debt, and more than half of the debt was more than $1,000.
According to Jeff Smedsrud, co-founder and president of insurance for HealthCare.com, millions of Americans are impacted by medical debts and it’s a growing problem that forces them to look for funding options such as instant online payday loans or emergency loans.
The survey findings also revealed that many Americans continue to be driven into medical debt despite having health insurance.
Some of the top drivers for these debts were cited to be accidents and injuries, and/or dental, visual or hearing problems. A significant number of Americans with chronic diseases are chromic paid, 15% and 13% respectively usually find themselves in medical debt.
Impact of Medical Debt On Human Life
Moreover, the findings show that medical debt significantly impacts human life. Apart from resorting to different types of payday loans to service their medical debts which plunges them deeper into debt, more than a fifth (22%) of American adults skip meals because their medical debts do not allow them to afford any. In addition, 20% skip education while 18% find it challenging to pay their rent or mortgage.
Moreover, approximately 44% of the surveyed U.S. adults intimated that medical debt negatively impacted their credit score which hampers their access to personal loan facilities that would help them with the debt.
Furthermore, 42% say that their medical bills had been sent to debt collectors, who come knocking at the earliest possible opportunity with the intention to have the bill settled.
While Americans do not usually tend to their struggles as fast as possible, 33% of them believe that it would take them more than two years to clear off their medical debts. As such, a majority fear that such debts will affect their financial health and with 33% being affected mentally.
Despite the high percentages of patients accruing medical debt, the survey findings show less than 50% attempt to negotiate the bills.
“We all negotiate every day. But there’s a stigma when it comes to medical expenses,” said Jeff.
Note that you can ask your medical services provider to present you with an itemized bill which allows you to check for errors. You can also compare the cost to estimates from websites like Healthcare Bluebook or FAIR Health Consumer.
“Folks should understand their Explanation of Benefits and get everyone – bill collectors, insurance firms, and your doctor – on the same page. Double check your statement for accuracy and remember you may be able to negotiate a discount,” says Jeff.
This survey was conducted between October 29 to November 1, with 2,852 U.S. adults aged 18 and older being surveyed. The sample was balanced across age, gender and U.S. region based on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.