Half of Americans fear major health event will lead to bankruptcy, study finds

Fifty percent of adults in the U.S. are concerned that if their household faced a major health event, they could go bankrupt, according to a study from West Health and Gallup. 

The study, based on 1,007 interviews conducted July 1-24, found this fear is increasing compared to previous years. In the last year, fear of medical bankruptcy has increased 12 percent among adults ages 18-29, and 9 percent among people ages 30-49. 

When it comes to unpaid bills, 15 percent of adults said a least one person in their house has medical debt that won't be repaid in the next year, according to the poll. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they would have to borrow money to pay a $500 medical bill. 

"The sharp rise in U.S. healthcare costs, which was already a significant problem for Americans before the COVID-19 pandemic, has only been exacerbated by new challenges presented by the outbreak," according to the poll. "In recent months, for example, 14 percent of Americans with likely COVID-19 symptoms reported that they would avoid care because of cost, and 88 percent are concerned about rising drug costs due to the pandemic. These COVID-19-related cost worries also come with a substantial racial divide."

Read the full poll here

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