Medical debt by the numbers: 6 stats

Medical debt burdens many Americans and disproportionately hurts Black Americans, according to several studies, surveys and reports Becker's has covered in March.

Six statistics to know about medical debt:

1. There is $88 billion in medical debt on consumer credit records since June 2021, a March 1 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report found. The actual amount is likely higher because not all medical debts are sent to consumer reporting companies.

2. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — the three biggest reporting firms — will remove nearly 70 percent of medical debt in collections accounts from credit reports starting in July, the firms said March 18. The firms have reports on more than 200 million Americans, according to The Wall Street Journal.

3. Nine percent of American adults, or 23 million people, owe medical debt of at least $250, including 11 million who owe more than $2,000 and 3 million who owe more than $10,000, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis published March 10.

4. Eleven percent of adults ages 35-49 reported medical debt, and 12 percent of adults ages 50-64 reported medical debt, more than other age groups, KFF also found. These age groups typically have more health needs than younger people but are too young to qualify for Medicare coverage.

5. Race plays a major role in who is burdened with medical debt, with 27.9 percent of Black households carrying medical debt compared to 17.2 percent of white non-Hispanic households, a March National Consumer Law Center report found.

6. More than 6 percent of Black households carry medical debt of more than 20 percent of their yearly income, compared to 4.4 percent of all households, the National Consumer Law Center also found.

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