Inflation Forces Americans to Avoid Medical Treatment

Nearly two in three Americans say that inflation makes it harder to pay their medical bills, according to a new survey.

A recent poll found that 67% of Americans reported difficulty paying medical bills due to inflation, compared with 57% in 2022.

Nearly one-third (32%) said their medical bills were in collections — up from 28% last year. Another 12% reported being unsure if their medical bills had been sent to collectors.

Of 1,000 people surveyed, 34% said they were "avoiding medical care because of debt." Last year, it was only 28%.

One in three (32%) reported owing over $1,000 in medical debt. Doctor visits were a primary source of debt, reported by 21% of respondents, followed by hospitalizations (17%) and emergency room visits (17%).

About 40% of respondents said they tried negotiating lower bill costs either on their own or using a medical bill advocate. However, only a third (31%) reported such negotiations being successful.

After reaching its peak of 9% in June 2022, inflation has fallen this year. However, prices were still 3.7% higher this August than at the same time last year.

Inflation may be subsiding, but the damage it wrought will stay with us for a long time. Medical debt was a growing problem before inflation, even before the pandemic. Now it’s becoming a crisis.

- Don Silvestri, Debt.com president

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced in September that it will begin making new rules to eliminate medical bills from credit reports, ending coercive debt collection processes.

According to a recent report from Human Rights Watch, a human rights organization, inadequate regulation of non-profit hospitals in the United States allows them to charge high fees and aggressively pursue medical bills against people who cannot pay, including through lawsuits and selling debt to third-party debt collectors.


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