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The Burden of Medical Debt: Survey Results

A quarter of U.S adults under age 65 report they or their household have had a problem paying a medical bill within the past year. While over half of the uninsured had medical bill difficulties, health insurance was no panacea against the problem. Around 20% of those with insurance also reported a problem paying medical bills. In fact, for households with medical bill payment issues, over 60% had health insurance.  Insurance deductibles make a difference in ability to pay a bill.

While those with low or moderate incomes are more commonly affected by the difficulty or inability to pay medical bills, people from all walks of life experience the problem. These are the findings from a survey jointly conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the New York Times.

The report on the findings covers the circumstances leading to medical bill problems, the financial status of those with the problem, and the consequences that have resulted from the issue.


Hamel L and others. The burden of medical debt: results from the Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times medical bills survey. Kaiser Family Foundation, Dec. 2015. https://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/8806-the-burden-of-medical-debt-results-from-the-kaiser-family-foundation-new-york-times-medical-bills-survey1.pdf

Sanger-Katz M. Even insured can face crushing medical debt, study finds. New York Times, Jan. 5, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/upshot/lost-jobs-houses-savings-even-insured-often-face-crushing-medical-debt.html

Related: Cohen RA. Problems paying medical bills among persons under age 65: early release of estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, 2011-June 2014. National Center for Health Statistics, Feb. 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/probs_paying_medical_bills_jan_2011_jun_2014.pdf

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050 rc@aha.org

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