Special Report

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

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16. Kansas
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 601,589 (27.2% of adult pop. — 10th highest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $735 (21st highest)
> Uninsured rate: 8.8% (19th highest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 15.0% (18th lowest)

A far higher than average 27.2% share of adults in Kentucky have unpaid medical bills. Although Kansas residents are about as likely as Americans overall to be covered with health insurance, the higher share of adults with medical debt is likely largely due to lower incomes in the state. The typical Kansas household earns $58,218 a year, nearly $4,000 less than the typical American household.

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17. Kentucky
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 892,450 (25.8% of adult pop. — 18th highest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $459 (7th lowest)
> Uninsured rate: 5.6% (12th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 21.3% (5th highest)

An estimated 892,450 adults in Kentucky are saddled with unpaid medical bills, or about one in every four residents 18 and older. The fact that many residents appear unable to afford treatment is likely having a detrimental effect on public health in the state. In the last year, 23.1% of adults have had a medical problem yet not sought treatment due to the cost, compared to 20.6% of adults nationwide.

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18. Louisiana
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 1.0 million (28.4% of adult pop. — 8th highest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $697 (25th highest)
> Uninsured rate: 8.0% (25th highest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 21.1% (6th highest)

An estimated 28.4% of adults in Louisiana have unpaid medical bills, a larger share than in the majority of states. While people in Louisiana are more likely to have insurance coverage than most Americans, health care can still be expensive, even for those with coverage. And for Americans with low incomes, this can often mean incurring debt. The typical household in Louisiana has an annual income of $47,905. Meanwhile, the typical American household has an income of $61,937.

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19. Maine
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 284,256 (26.0% of adult pop. — 16th highest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $729 (23rd highest)
> Uninsured rate: 8.0% (25th highest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 15.4% (23rd lowest)

A greater than average share of adults in Maine have unpaid medical bills, at 26.0%. Though people in Maine are more likely than most Americans to have health insurance, health care can still have high out-of-pocket costs, even for those with insurance. Indeed, for many in the state, the inability to pay for a hospital visit, doctor appointment, or test, is likely due in part to limited financial resources. The typical Maine household earns $55,602 a year, well below the $61,937 median income nationwide.

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20. Maryland
> Adults with unpaid med. bills: 899,539 (19.1% of adult pop. — 12th lowest)
> Median medical debt in collections: $498 (12th lowest)
> Uninsured rate: 6.0% (15th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 13.9% (11th lowest)

Marylanders are more likely to be able to pay a bill from a doctor’s appointment or hospital visit than most Americans. Only 19.1% of adults in the state have unpaid medical bills compared to 22.7% of adults nationwide.

The lower likelihood of debt is likely attributable to higher incomes and lower uninsured rates. The typical Maryland household earns $83,242 a year, the most of any state in the country. Additionally, just 6.0% of state residents are uninsured, well below the 8.9% national uninsured rate.