Majority of adults with past-due medical debt owe money to hospitals

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults with past-due medical bills owe at least some of that debt to hospitals, according to a March 13 report from the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Researchers analyzed June 2022 data from a nationally representative sample of 9,494 adults ages 18 to 64 who participated in the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey. 

Six things to know:

1. 15.4 percent of adults live in families with past-due medical bills. 

2. 72.9 percent of adults with past due medical bills owe debt to a hospital. Of those with past due bills, 45.1 percent owe debt to both a hospital and a doctor's or dentist's office; 27.9 percent owe to a hospital but not a doctor's/dentist's office; and 21.1 percent owe to a doctor's or dentist's office but not a hospital. 

3. 26.4 percent of adults with past-due medical debt have a family income at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, and 21.5 percent have an income between 100 percent to 250 percent of the federal poverty level. 

4. 60.9 percent of those with past-due hospital bills reported that a collection agency contacted them about debt. Also, 5.2 percent had a lawsuit filed against them by a hospital; 3.9 percent had their wages garnished; and 1.9 had funds seized from a bank account. 

5. 35.7 percent of those with past-due bills said they are working out a payment plan. 

6. 21.7 percent of those with past-due bills received discounted care. 

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