Special Report

How Many People in Your State Are Burdened With Medical Debt?


To determine how many people are burdened with medical debt in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed survey data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, a non-government agency. The 2018 survey asked between 500 and 1,250 adults (18 and over) in each state whether they had any unpaid bills from a health care or medical service provider — such as a hospital, doctor’s office, or testing lab — that are past due.

The share of adults who had a medical problem but did not go to a doctor or clinic because of the cost in the last 12 months is also from the FINRA survey.

In our analysis, we also reviewed the median amount of medical debt that has been turned over to collections agencies. This figure is for 2018 and came from the Urban Institute, a social and economic policy think tank.

Measures of health outcomes and behaviors, including smoking, exercise, and obesity rates, as well as the share of adults who report being in fair or poor health, came from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program and are for the most recent year available.

Data on uninsured rates and median household income came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey.

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