41% of US adults have medical debt

41% of US adults have medical debt, and another 16% had medical debt that was paid off in the last five years.

56% of those with medical debt say that the amount is less than $2,500. Perhaps not a lot for the forum demographic, but the forum demographic is probably not the many people in the US who cannot afford a $400 emergency expense.


From the article:

“ More specifically, about a quarter of adults (24%) say they currently have medical or dental bills that are past due or that they are unable to pay, about one in five (21%) say they have bills they are paying off over time directly to a provider, about one in six say they have debt they owe to a bank, collection agency, or other lender that for loans used to pay medical or dental bills (17%) or say they have medical or dental bills they have put on a credit card and are paying off over time (17%), and one in ten (10%) say they have debt they owe to a family member or friend for money borrowed to pay medical or dental bills.”

Not exactly a “sky is falling” picture the thread title implies. I have a bill my clinic says is past due. I keep telling them they billed the wrong insurance… and they are fixing it. But if asked if I have any past due bills, I would say “yes.”


And just spitballing here I’d guess probably close to 95+% of US adults have all sorts of debt for housing, cc, student, auto, medical (owed to provide or cc), boats, motorcycles, home equity/renovations, just to name few. As far as medical debt specifically, most health insurance policies as well as Medicare and Medicaid have deductibles so I’m not surprised at the figures quoted in the article.

It’s worth noting that many poor people in the US avoid going to the doctor/hospital entirely and thus are not factored into those medical debt figures.

Roughly 20% of Americans haven’t seen a doctor in the last 5 years.


We are not poor…retired more than a decade ago at 40, yet we have a high deductible medical insurance plan where we must pay quite a bit out of pocket before insurance kicks in so we virtually never go to the doctor. We pay about $1k/month and insurance company has never had to pay anything for us…as we get older it obviously might change.

While we are probably extreme, I find it amazing how many folks with good, company-provided medical insurance, go to the doctor for very minor issues. I also think that is one of the reasons US medical insurance is so high. Medical cost in the US is crazy…and despite what many like to say, it is not better than what is offered in similarly wealthy countries.

If the above article makes anyone wish for a Canadian style “free” health care system I suggest you read this article.
The pandemic exposed flaws in Quebec’s health system. Front-line workers say it’s time to fix them | CBC News


SIL lives in Norway and from what we have heard of the health care system through her experiences it is not perfect by any means. Not bad and I truly think I would prefer it, but it is not the utopia that is often touted.

It is similar to the desire of many to have a college experience just like they do in Germany without realizing it is a very different experience.