Nearly 1 in 10 adults are in medical debt: 4 things to know

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.

The findings come from the 2020 survey of income and program participation, which asked every adult in a household whether they owed money for medical bills in 2019 and the amount.

Four additional findings:

1. 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. These age groups typically have more health needs than younger people, but are too young to qualify for Medicare coverage.

2. Twenty-one percent of people in poor health and 15 percent people living with a disability reported medical debt.

3. Sixteen percent of Black adults reported medical debt, compared to 9 percent of white adults, 9 percent of Hispanic adults and 4 percent of Asian American adults.

4. Thirteen percent of adults who were uninsured for more than half of the year reported medical debt, compared to 9 percent of those who were insured for all or most of the year.

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