Medical debt challenges in America continue in 2021

Medical debt is a significant problem in America that leads many people to turn to bankruptcy. As of an April 7 report by the United States Census Bureau, 19% of households in America admitted that they could not afford to pay for medical care that they had previously received several years earlier or prior to services being rendered.

This data was collected as a part of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) in 2018. The survey asked respondents about their medical debt and if they still had medical debts that they needed to pay.

Medical debt is a challenge for households in America

Based on the information from the survey, it was found that households with children who were under 18 were more likely to have significant medical debt at a rate of around 24.7%. Households without children had medical debt at a rate of around 16.5%.

Are specific groups struggling with medical debt?

No, and that’s what is more surprising to many people. According to the survey, people from all backgrounds struggle with medical debt. It is more common in households with Black members than in those with White members (27.9% compared to 17.2%). In Asian households, the number struggling with medical debt was around 9.7%. Hispanic households had medical debt at a rate of around 21.7%.

There is a link between medical debt and age. Those with younger members in the household, surprisingly, were more likely to have debt. This is largely in part to the availability of Medicare for those over the age of 65.

Medical debt can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The right help can make a difference. Our website has more on what you can do about medical debt.