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Is medical debt really out of control in America?

| May 24, 2021 | Medical Debt

The short answer to this question is, “Yes, yes it is.”

According to reports from the U.S. Census Bureau data, 19% of American households — nearly one out of every five — is struggling under the weight of unpaid medical debts.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that medical debts appear to hit economically disadvantaged folks harder than others.

Medical debt breaks along racial, social dividing lines

Research indicates that Black households are far more likely to struggle with medical debts than White households (27.9% to only 17.2%, respectively). Hispanic households also carry a disproportionate share of the debt, at 21.7%, while Asian households are only 9.7% likely to struggle.

Race isn’t the only division where these debts are concerned, however. Only 15.5% of households where at least one member has a bachelor’s degree are likely to struggle with their medical bills. Comparatively, those with graduate or professional degrees only experience problems paying down medical debt about 10.9% of the time. Compare that to the 26.2% of households without the benefits of higher education that are struggling with their bills.

Perhaps worst of all, households with minor children tend to carry a major debt burden. Roughly one-quarter of those households experience problems paying off medical debt.

Unpaid medical bills are a burden that can lead to additional problems for families of all sorts. When you can’t afford medical care, you may skip medication and put off treatment that you need to keep functioning. That, in turn, can make it harder to manage your work, your life and the rest of your bills.

Medical debt is not an inescapable burden

If your family is struggling under the heavy load of medical bills and other debts (like credit card payments you can no longer afford), there is help available. There’s no shame in tackling the issue head-on, through bankruptcy. Talk to an attorney today about your options.