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Medical Debt Declines with Patients’ Age

Credit report data for more than four million Americans examined by researchers for Health Affairs shows medical bills in collections are declining among older consumers, but their medical spending is increasing.

According to the research, “the share of people with at least one medical bill in collections decreased nearly 40 percent from patients age 27 to 64.”  Overall, as of 2016, about 16 percent of consumers’ credit reports showed unpaid medical bills referred to collection agencies, Health Affairs reports.  While aging consumers’ medical bills in collections decline, spending increases.  For example, the mean medical spending for 2011-2015 ranges from $4,000 to $6,000 for consumers ages 70 to 80.

The authors of the Health Affairs study, Michael Batty, an economist at the Federal Reserve Board, Christa Gibbs, economist at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, and Benedic Ippolito, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, also found that “un-insurance rates tracked closely with total medical debt, with younger adults having both higher dollar amounts of medical debt and a higher likelihood of being uninsured.

However, the number of people who accumulate medical debt by age was less closely tied to insurance coverage rates.”  Read more on the study on the Health Affairs website: https://bit.ly/2o9cFmQ.

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