How many households struggle with medical debt?

Nashville residents might be surprised to learn that more than one-fourth of all U.S. households are laboring to pay large medical debt, according to The Atlantic. Unless, of course, they happen to be one of those families. What is more surprising is that those struggling with medical bills are not the patients with long-term illnesses but the ones who suffer a one-time illness who are struggling more.

A 2017 banking analysis took a look at medical costs and how they impacted middle-income families who earned about $57,000. Researchers looking at 250,000 checking accounts found household finances varied by nearly 30 percent, or $1,300, every month due to medical expenses.

They also found that 40 percent of the households incurred expenses of $1,500 or higher in a yearly period that could be attributed to car problems, taxes or medical expenses. For mid-income households, 16 percent had a single large medical expense, while 39 percent incurred such an expense in a three-year window.

What is really interesting is that the expenses came at about the same time as an increase in income. That may sound lucky, but researchers think it likely that family members typically delay some type of necessary medical care until they have some type of payout. The study shows that expenses came not only with a boost in income but also that the boost came in the form of a tax refund. Unfortunately, refunds, on the whole, do not pay the entire bill and most families—even a year after a big medical expense—continue to struggle financially.

The information in this article is general in nature and is not meant to be considered legal advice.

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