Appendix

Below are studies and analyses with measures and estimates of medical debt from recent years, including some which utilize a more narrow definition of medical debt.

Study Question Wording / Analysis source Finding Dates
KFF Health Care Debt Survey Please think about any money you currently owe or debt you have due to medical or dental bills. This may include bills for your own medical or dental care or someone else’s care, such as a child, spouse, or parent. Do you currently have:

a. Any medical or dental bills that are past due or that you are unable to pay

b. Any medical or dental bills you are paying off over time directly to a provider

c. Any debt you owe to a bank, collection agency, or other lender that includes debt or loans used to pay medical or dental bills

d. Any medical or dental bills you have put on a credit card, and you are paying off over time

e. Any debt you owe to a family member or friend for money you borrowed to pay medical or dental bills

41% of adults have health care debt due to medical or dental bills February 25 – March 20, 2022
Peterson-KFF: The burden of medical debt in the United States Analysis of the 2020 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)

Did … have any medical bills he/she was unable to pay in full? Include bills for doctors, dentists, hospitals, therapists, medication, equipment, nursing home or home care. Include any bills of the respondent’s children that have not already been reported.

23 million people (nearly 1 in 10 adults) owe significant medical debt ($250 of more). The SIPP survey suggests people in the United States owe at least $195 billion in medical debt. January– December, 2019
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Analysis of consumer credit records $88 billion in medical debt on consumer credit records June 2021
Commonwealth Fund Health Care Coverage and COVID-19 Survey Adults who reported that over the prior 12 months they or a family member had problems paying medical bills, had been contacted by a collection agency about unpaid bills, had to change their way of life to pay their bills, or were paying off medical bills and debt over time. 38% of adults reported problems paying bills, contact by collection, changing way of life or paying medical bills and debt over time March 9 – June 8, 2021
U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2020 Did … have any medical bills he/she was unable to pay in full? Include bills for doctors, dentists, hospitals, therapists, medication, equipment, nursing home or home care. Include any bills of the respondent’s children that have not already been reported. 17% reported medical bills they were unable to pay in full January-December, 2019
2019 Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel – Wave 54 Do you have any of the following types of loans or debt? Debt from medical bills 29% yes, have debt from medical bills Sep 16-29, 2019
2018 National Financial Capability Study Do you currently have any unpaid bills from a health care or medical service provider (e.g., a hospital, a doctor’s office, or a testing lab) that are past due? 23% reported past-due medical debt June-October, 2018
Main Findings Methodology

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