medical debt graph

Summary: “Americans are no strangers to medical debt, and the burden is most severe in Mississippi, where nearly 40 percent of adults under age 65 owe hospitals or doctors, according to the Urban Institute,” writes Max Blau over at STAT, in a piece that neatly encapsulates much of our reporting on health spending. “But the men and women carrying that debt are not always poor — they’re increasingly middle class. And their inability, or refusal, to pay their bills is straining hospital budgets and threatening the availability of care. ‘You’d be surprised when you look through our bad debt rolls,’ said Alvin Hoover, CEO of King’s Daughters Medical Center in Brookhaven, Miss. ‘Some drive a 2002 pickup truck, and some drive a 2016 pickup truck. Those are the ones that get under your skin — where you went to buy a 2016 truck when you still owe the hospital $4,000.’ Mississippi, where the median household income hovers near $40,000, has one of nation’s highest rates of uninsured and underinsured adults. As a result, the state has one of the highest percentage of adults who avoid doctors due to potential costs, said Therese Hanna, executive director at the Center for Mississippi Health Policy. At the same time, medical debt remains the leading cause of bankruptcies, according to Roy Mitchell, executive director of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program.” Max Blau, “Mississippi’s middle class carries the burden of high medical debt,” Stat.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...