Medical debt is a huge issue in America. Poorer Americans are turning to credit cards to pay medical bills, creating more debt by rendering the medical debt invisible and subject to more fees. A national survey looked at the amount of accumulated debt for those with and without major medical expenses. Presented here is how that survey was conducted, what the findings show and recommendations for getting America out of debt.
The trend is toward health providers promoting credit card use
Findings & Stats
Billions to Visa
In 2001, patients charged $19.5 billion in health care services to Visa cards.
Insurance over Income
Health insurance premiums at the time of this report increased by 74%, while median income grew only 12%.
Insured Having Trouble
25% of the U.S. population had problems paying medical bills; 66% of them had health insurance.
Medical Debt Numbers
29 million American adults have medical debt.
Almost 50% of personal bankruptcies are due in part to medical debt.
No Insurance Debt
Average credit card debt was higher for those without health insurance ($14,512) than for those with health insurance ($10,973).
Medical Credit Debt
Average credit card debt was higher for those with credited medical expenses than for those without.
Statements & Quotations
In recognition of the growing market for patient out-of-pocket costs, the credit card industry has developed “medical credit cards” designed specifically for medical expenses, which have recently entered the marketplace. In some cases, health insurers and financial institutions are teaming up to offer products featuring high deductible health insurance and lines of credit to meet the increase in out-of-pocket expenses associated with the higher deductible.
In general, the trend for health insurance policies has included higher deductibles and co-payments for hospitalizations, office visits, and prescription drugs, which, in turn, increases the financial burden for people who get sick. Medical debt can also be tied to less-comprehensive insurance.
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