Southern states disproportionately affected by medical debt

Being on the receiving end of a hefty medical bill can be an overwhelming experience for many people in Tennessee. Medical care is something that often times cannot be put off. But the worry as to whether or not such care is affordable is real for many people.

CBS News reports that nearly one quarter of adults in the United States has an outstanding balance on a medical bill. A number of factors may be involved in why this is and who the people with the most debt are. While it may be easy to imagine that older people are the group most likely to suffer from unpaid medical bills, it is actually those of Generation X and the millennial generation that hold that distinction.

A new study also found that geography plays a role in whether or not people incur bills for medical care, which they cannot pay. According to The Atlantic, people who live in southern states are more likely to find themselves with medical debt. Indeed, of the top 10 states with the highest rates of medical debt, eight are in the South. Some reasons for this may be that the overall obesity rate in Southern states is higher than in other areas of the country, leading people to need more medical attention. In addition, while some states have expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, others did not.

While Tennessee escaped the top ten, it did come in at number 14. Mississippi was the state with the highest rate, as 37 percent of people there reported having unpaid medical bills. Hawaii was the state with the fewest people with medical debt, at only 6 percent.

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