At the height of the pandemic last year, Debt.com polled more than 1,000 Americans and learned that 46 percent had medical debt. More than half of those were in collections.
This year, the same poll shows just over 50 percent have medical debt. Of those, just under half are in collections. More Americans have medical debt, but as the pandemic winds down, more are keeping current with their bills
That minor movement in the numbers can’t obscure a bigger problem, says Don Silvestri, President of Debt.com. “They say time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t heal medical debt,” Silvestri says.
Pandemic, recession, or a roaring economy, medical bills know no season.”
In 2020, the most common amount of medical debt was between $1,000 and $5,000 with 32 percent owing in that range. In 2021, it rose to 34 percent.
If there was any good news, medical debt of $150,000 or more dipped ever so slightly, from 1.5 percent last year to 1.2 percent this year.
The most significant change – and one easily attributable to the pandemic – was the “primary source of your medical debt.” Last year, hospitalizations accounted for a quarter of medical debt. This year, that dropped to under a quarter at 18 percent.
Other survey findings:
- 35% of respondents tried to negotiate medical debt on their own, while 4% hired a medical bill advocate, and 60% did neither
- Of those who negotiated, 34% said they were successful, while 66% said they were not
- 35% said they are on a payment plan to pay off the debt, while 65% said they are not
“Long after this awful pandemic finally ends, medical debt will still be here,” Silvestri says. “There’s no easy vaccine for medical debt. It will take help from federal and state lawmakers, and more education for consumers.” Debt.com offers that education, with a free debt analysis.
Source: Medical Debt is an Immovable Object: Debt.com Survey Shows a Four Percent Increase Over Last Year
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