Many Americans face the financial — not to mention emotional — impact of medical debt. Mounting medical bills can make it hard to afford other life necessities or save for long-term goals. Unpaid debt can land in collections and possibly damage your credit score. And often, the stress of it all leaves people anxious, worried and depressed.
If you’re trying to pay off medical debt, you’re not alone. A reported 137.1 million Americans faced a medical financial hardship in 20191 — and healthcare costs only continue to rise, showing a 4.6 percent increase from 2018 to 2019.2 Not only does the average American spend $5,000 on annual out-of-pocket medical expenses, but 3 out of 4 insured patients3 also say the cost of their medical bills was more than they could afford.
The far reach of medical debt keeps many consumers from achieving financial wellness. A reported 65 percent of Americans cite unexpected medical debt as their top budget concern,4 and 57 percent of those with outstanding medical bills say they wouldn’t be able to afford an unexpected $400 emergency.5 In order to pay off these medical bills, many consumers make significant sacrifices: 16 percent put off vacations and major household purchases, 15 percent use some or all of their savings, 11 percent take an extra job or work more hours and 9 percent increase their credit card debt.6
Fortunately, a solid plan for how to pay off medical bills and debt can prevent additional pain and get you back on track financially.
Your medical debt may have been unplanned, but making and sticking to a plan to pay it down can reduce your stress and limit the debt’s financial impact.