Medical Debt Statistics

Medical debt is one of the most serious issues in America which is why it is important to know Medical Debt Statistics.

Americans likely owe hundreds of billions of dollars in the name of medical debt.

According to U.S Census Bureau data on the burden of medical debt, 19% of American households could not afford to pay for medical care. 

Medical Debt Statistics
Medical Debt Statistics

Nearly one in 10 adults owe $250 in medical debt, meaning 23 million people with medical debt worth hundreds of millions.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the trend of rising healthcare costs, making it hard to deal with the public health crises.  

Medical debt is different from other types of debt because people get into it accidentally or faultlessly, and even financially stable people can be affected by it.

In this article, we are going to share the medical debt statistics you might be interested in knowing. Let’s get started!

Read: Trinity Debt Management Reviews 

Read: 15 Debt Collections Statistics You Need To Know


Medical Debt Key Statistics

1. 11% of the adults between ages 35-49 are in a medical debt

KFF reported that 11% of the adults between the ages (of 35-49) and 12% of (50-64) are in medical debt, more than any other age group.

People in these age groups need more health care than young people but are generally considered too young to be eligible for Medicare. 

2. There is $88 billion in medical Debt

According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report published in March 2022, there is $88 billion in medical debt on consumer credit records.

However, the exact amount is considered to be higher because not all medical debts are reported to the consumer reporting companies.

3. Hospital Expenditure in the U.S is $1.14 trillion per year  

In the U.S, the annual hospital expenditures are $1.14 trillion. The highest spending has been seen in private insurance with 4.2 percent to $1.2 trillion in 2017, whereas the lowest spending on retail prescription drugs, which reached $333.4 billion in 2017, an increase of 0.4 percent.

4. Healthcare costs $102,530 per Person 

America is one of the most expensive countries in the world, when it comes to healthcare. According to National Healthcare Data, U.S health care spending grew to 9.7% in 2020, reaching $4.1 trillion, which averages $12,530 per person. Health care spending accounts for 17.9% of America’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

5. Households with children under 18 are more likely to carry medical debt

In August 2017, the Census Bureau released information on debt for households by the type of debt and selected characteristics of the households owing medical debt.

The debt was distributed disproportionately across groups based on socioeconomic status, demographics, and the health status of the family members.

It was found that households with children younger than are 24.6% more likely to have medical debt than those without children.

6. 21% of the adults postpone a medical treatment due to high costs

Nearly 1 in every 3 American say they have postponed their treatment because they were worried about the hospital bill.

Around 21% of the adults between 18-64 have delayed a medical treatment recommended by the doctor due to the high cost, and around 40% rely on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs.

7. 6% of black households carry a medical debt of 20% of their yearly income

National Consumer Law Center found that 6% of black households carry a medical debt of 20% of their yearly income, 4.4% more as compared other households 

27.9% of black households reported medical debt compared to 17.2% of white and non-Hispanic households. 

8. 23 million adults owe a medical debt of at least $250

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, 23 million adults owe a medical debt of at least $250, including the 11 million of those who owe more than $2,000 and 3 million who owe more than $10,000.  

9. The average unpaid medical debt per person is $579 

Americans spend more on health care than any other country; due to coronavirus outbreaks federal and state budgets are increasing day by day, the medical expenditures also going high. The average unpaid medical debt on the credit reports is $579 per person.

10. 70% of medical Debt will be removed from credit reports

The Wall Street Journal reported that the three biggest reporting firms, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian would remove 70% of medical debt from credit reports in July 2022. These firms have reported on over 200 million Americans. 

11. Health Care Spending will reach $6 trillion by 2027

According to California Health Care Foundation, health spending in the United States is growing at an average rate of 5.5% per year and is expected to reach the $6 trillion mark by 2027 (19.4% of GDP).

The health care spending for those on Medicare is expected to reach $19,546, while those who are on Medicaid will reach $12,029 by 2027. 


What are the Main Causes of Medical Debt?

Several underlying factors contribute to the increase in price and utilization and thereby boosting the spending on healthcare, but the most notable factors are an aging population, healthcare prices, and hidden costs.

Individuals aged 65 and over account for 17% of the U.S population, and since people of this age group get sick often and tend to spend more on healthcare, the growth in the number of senior citizens will increase the healthcare costs as well over time.

Similarly, the cost of health care services is increasing faster than the price of other goods and services in the economy.

In the past 20 years, the cost of healthcare services has grown at an average rate of 3.5% per year.

Hidden costs are also a cause of medical debt because it includes many small expenses that you do not count but these small amounts can be a major addition to medical debt like doctor’s visits, purchasing of medicines, and travel costs.

Read: 17 Surprising VA Home Loan Facts 

Medical services that led to the medical debt 

Medical servicesPercentage of Debt
Doctor visits65%
Diagnostic tests65%
Emergency room visits61%
Outpatient service49%
Lab fee64%
Prescribed medicines cost52%
Dental care41%
Prescription drug costs25%
Child Medical Care25%
Nursing home care or Long-term Care4%
Short-term Single hospital stay66%

Who Has More Medical Debt?

Medical debt can strike anyone; the problem is usually cut across age groups, race, ethnicity, educational levels, socioeconomic status, health, and other characteristics reported in the SIPP. 

  • According to a survey, 27.9% of the black households held medical dent compared to 17.2% of White households and 9.7% of Asian households. 
  • Households with the highest level of education any of the members, such as a bachelor’s or a professional degree, are least likely to carry medical debt (15.5% and 10.9% respectively). 
  • Households in which the highest level of education of any of the members was high school or college without any degree are most likely in medical debt (26.2%).
  • Households with children between ages 5 to 9 and 10 to 18 carry medical debt of 24.4% and 24.2%, respectively. 
  • Provincially, 22.1% of households in the South reported to held medical debt compared to 15.2% in the West, 15.6% in the Northeast, and 20.1% in the Midwest. 
  • There is no difference in the share of the medical debt of households above and below the poverty threshold (both carrying 19% debt). 

Medical Debt by Householder Age

Age has also proved to have a link with medical debt. Households with an older head of the family are less likely to carry medical debt than households with a younger head of household.

Around 20% of the households where the householder is under 65 have medical debt, while in the households headed by someone over 65, eligible for Medicare, the medical debt dipped to 15%. Check out the table below to see the percentage of medical debt for different age groups: 

Householder AgeMedical Debt
Under age 3519%
35-4422%
45-5423%
55-6422%
65-6915%
70-7411%
75 and up9%

Health Status and Medical Debt 

Differences in health status, hospital stay durations, or having a disability can also lead to medical debt.

About 31.3% of the households with a member in poor or fair health are more likely to held medical debt than 14.4% of those with no member in bad or fair health. 

More than 31% of the households with a member experiencing a hospital stay had medical debt than those with no members with a hospital stay (15.8%).

Similarly, the share of households with at least one member with a disability the medical debt was 26.5% compared to 14.4% of those with no disabled members.

Health Coverage and Medical Debt 

Health insurance is meant to protect people from high medical costs and fully insured households held less medical debt.

Only 16.2% of households with health insurance for all members had medical debt as opposed to 30.8% of those with no health coverage.

Households with no health insurance coverage had a median medical debt of $3,000, compared to $2,000 for households with full insurance coverage. 

Annual Spendings on the Medical Conditions 

The table below shows how medical conditions that account for most of the medical spending in the U.S: 

Medical Conditions Annual Spending 
Routine Care, Signs, and Symptoms $289.9 billion
Endocrine System Diseases  $168.7 billion
Respiratory System Diseases $176.5 billion 
Circulatory System Diseases$259.2 billion 
Nervous System Diseases $159.5 billion 
Mental Illness $109.6 billion 
Pregnancy-related Treatments$50.5 billion 
Musculoskeletal System Diseases$259.2 billion

Read: How Much Debt You Need To Have To File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?


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