Special Report

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

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6. Colorado
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 878,320 (19.8% of adult pop. — 14th lowest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $755 (19th highest)
> Uninsured rate: 7.5% (24th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 14.3% (16th lowest)

In Colorado, 19.8% of the 18 and over population has some form of outstanding medical debt, a smaller share than the 22.7% of American adults who do.

Colorado residents are also more likely to be healthy than Americans in much of the rest of the country. Adults in Colorado are more likely to exercise and less likely to smoke than most American adults, and Colorado’s 21% obesity rate is the lowest of any state in the country. These measures indicate a likely reduced risk of many serious — and potentially expensive — diseases and complications.

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7. Connecticut
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 459,801 (16.2% of adult pop. — 5th lowest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $441 (4th lowest)
> Uninsured rate: 5.3% (7th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 13.8% (9th lowest)

Just 16.2% of Connecticut residents 18 and older have unpaid health care bills, the fifth smallest share of any state. The lower prevalence of medical debt is due in part to the low uninsured rate in the state. Just 5.3% of Connecticut residents lack health insurance, well below the comparable 8.9% share of Americans. High incomes in the state also mean more residents have the resources to pay their bills. The median annual household income in the state of $76,348 is about $14,400 higher than the national median income.

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8. Delaware
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 210,640 (27.6% of adult pop. — 9th highest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $601 (21st lowest)
> Uninsured rate: 5.7% (14th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 15.8% (25th lowest)

Just 5.7% of Delaware residents lack health insurance, well below the national uninsured rate of 8.9%. Even with insurance, health care can be a considerable financial burden, and in Delaware, 27.6% of the 18 and older residents have unpaid medical bills, the ninth largest share among states.

The state’s poorer health outcomes may be contributing to the higher share of adults with medical debt. By several behavioral measures and indicators, Delaware residents are at increased risk of serious, and potentially expensive to treat, diseases and conditions. Adults in Delaware are more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise than the typical American adult. Additionally, 30.6% of adults in the state are obese, a slightly higher rate than the national obesity rate of 29.0%.

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9. Florida
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 3.5 million (20.7% of adult pop. — 19th lowest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $921 (5th highest)
> Uninsured rate: 13.0% (4th highest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 18.5% (13th highest)

The 20.7% share of adults in Florida with medical debt is slightly below the 22.7% comparable share of adults nationwide. Still, those with debt in the state are likely to have more of it. The median amount of medical debt handled by collections agencies is $921, far more than the national median of $694.

Both the amount of health care debt and the share of residents who have it would likely be reduced through increased government assistance for lower-income residents. Florida is one of a minority of states not to have adopted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

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10. Georgia
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 2.4 million (29.9% of adult pop. — 4th highest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $808 (11th highest)
> Uninsured rate: 13.7% (3rd highest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 18.8% (12th highest)

There are some 2.4 million adults in Georgia with unpaid medical bills, or nearly 30% of the state’s 18 and older population. Nationwide, 22.7% of adults have medical debt. The higher likelihood of debt in Georgia is due in part to the state’s large uninsured population. An estimated 13.7% of state residents are without health insurance compared to 8.9% of adult Americans nationwide. The high cost of treatment has also kept a staggering 27.0% of adults in the state from seeking treatment for a medical problem due to cost. Nationwide, 20.6% of adults have not sought treatment for a problem due to costs.