Consumer credit reports see $88B in US medical bills

There is upwards of $88 billion in medical debt among people in the U.S., a March 1 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report found.

"When it comes to medical bills, Americans are often caught in a doom loop between their medical provider and insurance company," bureau Director Rohit Chopra said in a March 1 news release. "Our credit-reporting system is too often used as a tool to coerce and extort patients into paying medical bills they may not even owe."

Seven key findings:

1. The analysis found that there is $88 billion in medical debt on consumer credit records since June 2021, but this amount is likely higher because not all medical debts are sent to consumer reporting companies.

2. Most medical debt collection tradelines on consumer credit reports are below $500, but it's common for people with medical debt to have several medical collection tradelines.

3. Medical debt is the most common debt collection tradeline on credit records, accounting for 58 percent of all third-party debt collection tradelines as of 2021.

4. Medical debt reported to consumer reporting companies that are past due can end up on credit reports and lower credit scores, making it harder to find a job or home.

5. Other debt collections are more predictive of future payment issues than medical debt.

6. Black and Hispanic people, young adults, low-income people, veterans and older adults are disproportionately affected by medical debt. People in the Southeastern and Southwestern U.S. are also more affected by medical debt.

7. The payment amounts for medical bills can vary and be unpredictable. Uninsured and out-of-network patients typically are charged more than in-network patients. Often these charges to uninsured and out-of-network patients are higher than providers' costs.

Read the full report here.

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