America has a growing medical debt problem. The United States Census claims that 19 percent of households cannot afford medical care.
The Census also says the median amount of debt was $2,000. Medical debt is particularly devastating because it often leads to bankruptcy and the forced neglect of other medical treatments.
Education is a risk factor
Some factors influence the likelihood of medical debt. Education is the largest corollary to unpaid medical bills. Over 26 percent of households without a college degree suffer from some level of medical debt. However, education above a bachelor’s degree does not necessarily decrease the likelihood of debt.
Poor health creates spiraling debt
Individuals with fair to poor health have a much greater rate of medical debt. Still, over 14 percent of healthy households cannot pay for medical bills. These families are at significant risk if an unforeseen medical emergency happens.
High medical debt afflicts lower-income families
High medical debt afflicts only four percent of the US population. The Census measures high medical debt as liabilities over 20 percent of a family’s annual income. The primary factor that contributes to high medical debt is poverty. Households that cannot afford health insurance are nearly three times more likely to accumulate high medical debt. Clearly, the combination of poverty, lack of prospects, and poor health create a snowball effect that seems impossible to alleviate.
Medical debt does not have to be a life sentence. Start by educating yourself about the various tools and resources available to people who suffer financial difficulties. Take the first step today, and start working towards a debt-free future.