Americans Borrowing From Friends and Family to Avoid Medical Debt

Medical emergencies caused Americans to borrow an estimated $55.7 billion from loved ones in one year alone, a finder.com survey reveals. Responses from 1,417 adults indicate that borrowing for medical emergencies is the second-largest reason why American borrowed an estimated total of $288 billion from friends and family (”FF debt”), surpassed only by borrowing for the down payment on a home.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that 26 percent of Americans reports that they or a member of their household have problems paying their medical bills or unable to pay them. As a result, it’s not surprising that the No. 2 reason for Friends and Family Debt is medical expenses.

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 26 percent of Americans have problems paying their medical bills.

For Americans fortunate enough to be earning more than $100K a year, finder.com found, medical emergencies are the No. 1 reason they borrow from friends and family,

“Medical debts can strike families at all economic strata — even high-income earners,” said Olivia Chow, consumer trends expert at finder.com. “Until we find a government healthcare solution that serves all, who you know, and how much money they have, could continue to determine your ability to afford treatment or avoid financial ruin.

“Who you know, and how much money they have, could determine your ability to afford treatment or avoid financial ruin.” — Olivia Chow

Insurmountable medical debt impacts more than the individual who needs treatment.

“Our level of borrowing indicates it’s a societal problem that affects patients’ friends and family, even among high earners,” said Chow. “Your personal access to funds from friends and family may be an even greater factor in determining your ability to cope with medical debt.”