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How Medical Bills Rank Among Other Sources of Consumer Debt

Paying off debt is the top cause of financial stress in the U.S., and recently determined medical bills are among the sources of debt for consumers in addition to mortgages, student loans and credit cards. conducted a survey on financial stress earlier this year, finding that paying off debt is the top cause of that stress among more than 7,000 respondents. It followed that survey by interviewing nearly 3,000 consumers on the type of debt they have and their loan balances.

A majority of respondents, 51 percent, said they are not in debt.  “Perhaps this is because some respondents are overlooking certain types of debt they might have, such as small balance accounts or loans in deferment,” said Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations and external affairs for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in an article from

Only about 6 percent of respondents said medical bills are the biggest source of their debt, according to the survey. The median amount of medical debt for those respondents is $600.  “Although 79 percent of survey respondents report having zero medical debt, it’s the top source of debt in more states than credit card debt,” reports.

The median medical debt for respondents earning up to $24,999 is $1,500. Twenty-seven percent of respondents in that income group have medical debt, according to the survey.  A separate survey on financial burdens, released by in April 2016, found that healthcare costs are “the most worrying economic issue” for consumers.

The survey also found that many respondents reported carrying various forms of debt that varies depending on their income and age.  Among all respondents, consumers ages 65 and older are the least likely to have debt, while those ages 35 to 44 are the most likely to have unpaid bills, according to the survey.  Respondents who earn between $100,000 and $149,999 are more likely to have debt than respondents in other income groups.

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Last modified onWednesday, 07 December 2016 19:09
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