Medical debt is a serious problem for many people — even those who have insurance and are relatively stable, financially. A 2016 survey found that more than one-quarter of people in the United States have experienced problems paying a medical bill.
Here are some of the most jaw-dropping statistics about medical debts in the modern era:
- As far back as 2007, medical problems and medical bills were contributing factors to two-thirds of all consumer bankruptcies — a figure that had increased dramatically since just 2001.
- Three-fourths of debtors who filed bankruptcy over medical debt have insurance. However, gaps in coverage, high deductibles, pricey medications, and uncovered procedures and tests leave them exposed to financial liabilities they can’t cover.
- Many of the people who file bankruptcy over medical debt are middle-aged or approaching middle-age (with an average age of almost 45). About three-fifths have college degrees.
- Slightly more than half — 54% — of consumers who have medical debt on their credit reports have no other debts listed. Yet, they cannot fully pay their medical bills.
- A steady income is no guarantee that you can pay a surprise medical bill. The average monthly income of someone who files bankruptcy over their medical bills is $2,586 per month.
- The struggle to afford necessary (and potentially life-saving) medical tests, procedures and medication can lead to other financial problems. Among consumers with unpaid medical bills, 29% say that their struggle with medical debt led to problems paying other bills.
Medical debt can start a snowball of debt rolling and disrupt your ability to care for yourself or your family. Many people are merely one serious accident or major illness away from financial distress. Find out more about how Chapter 7 bankruptcy may relieve your problems.