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Fact Sheet
November 2009

Shortchanged by Medical Debt

In the face of rising health care costs, families across the country are paying higher and higher health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs, even as their coverage is being cut back. When they can’t afford to pay their entire medical bills, they often sink into medical debt. Medical debt is a growing problem not only for the uninsured, but also for people who have insurance, including low-income consumers and the middle class.

This fact sheet addresses the basics of medical debt, including:
Why Is Medical Debt Different from Other Kinds of Debt?

  • It Strikes without Warning When People Are Most Vulnerable

Medical Debt Is a Problem for Almost Everyone

  • The Uninsured
  • Those Who Have Insurance but Who Are Underinsured
  • Low-Income Families
  • A Growing Problem for Middle-Class Families

The Consequences of Medical Debt

  • Can Lead to Individuals Postpone or Forgo Care
  • Leaves Families Unable to Pay Other Expenses
  • Contributes to Credit Card Debt
  • Causes Bankruptcy
  • Undermines Housing Security