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One in six patients face collections over medical debt

News
Article

In some areas of the U.S., 40% of the population has medical debt in collections

An analysis from HelpAdvisor illustrates how medical debt affects the average American.

Medical debt: ©Volgariver - stock.adobe.com

Medical debt: ©Volgariver - stock.adobe.com


One out of every six Americans who have a credit bureau report have medical debt that is in the hands of a collection agency as of February 2022, according to the report. In certain areas of the U.S., the rate of people with medical debt in collections is more than 40%.
Medical debt is a common issue in the U.S., with some 43 million people having unpaid medical bills in 2021, and more than 40% of adults currently have some debt caused by medical or dental bills.
Medical debt often ends up in collections, with the federal government reporting that 57% of all collections accounts are for medical debt.
Here are some key findings from the report:

  • North Carolina – which as a state has the fourth-highest rate of residents with medical debt in collections – accounts for three of the top four counties in the top 50 and nine of the top 18.
  • North Carolina is home to three of the six U.S. counties with at least a 40% rate of residents with medical debt in collections.
  • Texas (14 counties) and North Carolina (13 counties) together make up more than half of the counties with the 50 highest rates of medical debt in collections.
  • In 47 U.S. counties, at least one third of the population has medical debt in collections. In 356 counties, at least a quarter of the population has medical debt in collections.
  • 24% of West Virginia residents have medical debt in collections. More than one out of five people in West Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have medical debt in collections.
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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health