25% of Americans Have Medical Debt; 55% Worry About It: Bankrate.com

September 4, 2014

Twenty five percent of Americans say they currently have more medical debt than emergency savings, according to a Bankrate.com report. This number nearly doubles (44%) among those earning less than $30,000 per year.

Also, according to the report, people who do not currently have medical debt are concerned about it. Over half of Americans (55%) are worried they will find themselves overwhelmed by medical debt (27% are very worried and 28% are somewhat worried).

“These results show that more than half the population feels financially insecure when it comes to health care. This is an issue that affects consumer confidence and the broader economy,” according to Bankrate.com insurance analyst Doug Whiteman.

Adding to the negative sentiment, the majority of Americans (55%) are worried that they will not have affordable health insurance in the future (versus 43% who were either not too worried or not worried at all).

“This might suggest that many people are either uninformed about the exchanges or lacking confidence in the Affordable Care Act,” added Whiteman.

The report found that worry levels were the highest among people in their prime earning years, between the ages of 30 and 64.

These results comprise Bankrate.com’s Health Insurance Pulse, a monthly survey that tracks how Americans are feeling about health care and their personal finances. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

Among the report’s highlights:

  • 80% of people earning $75,000 a year or more have more emergency savings than medical debt, while just 6% of these high earners say their medical debt is greater.
  • 44% of those making less than $30,000 per year say they have more medical debt than emergency savings, while 30% in the lowest-income group say their greater amount is emergency savings.
  • 34% of parents with children under 18 say they have more medical debt than emergency savings, compared with 22% of respondents without kids who say this.
  • 60% of women are worried about their future health insurance, compared with 50% of men.
  • 60% of Americans between ages 30 and 64 are very or somewhat worried that they won’t have affordable health coverage at some point, versus 49% of those in other age groups.

Source: Bankrate.com

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