Medical Debt Woes: Report Finds Families Hit Hardest
A new report from the Urban Institute reveals that medical debt is a significant problem affecting more than one in seven nonelderly adults. The report shows that low-income families are most affected by medical debt, with nearly two-thirds of adults affected by past-due medical debt having incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty line. Most of the past-due medical debt is owed to hospitals. Although many healthcare organizations offer financial assistance programs and payment plans to ease the burden of patient financial responsibility, lack of insurance and low income hinder the effectiveness of some collection strategies. The Urban Institute suggests that expanded access to hospital charity care and stronger consumer protections could complement coverage expansions and other efforts to mitigate the impact of unaffordable medical bills.