Medical debt may be one of the most unexpected and random financial burdens for Americans, however the degree to which it affects people varies widely by location and age. Unsurprisingly, medical debt often preys on those who live in states with people that already struggle with financial problems.
Mississippi leads the nation with 37.4% of non-elderly adults with past-due medical debts, while just 5.9% of non-elderly adults in Hawaii reported such debts.
More surprising, however, is that medical debt often plagues those who typically have the fewest medical problems: young adults. While the elderly suffer from more health issues than any other age group, they also tend to have healthcare coverage whereas younger Americans are covered in lesser numbers:
Americans 25 to 34 years old, 27.8% report past-due medical debt, the highest share of all age cohorts. By contrast, among people 55 to 64, 19.2% report past-due medical bills, and among 65 and older individuals, the share is even lower.
The risk of medical debt stands alone from the likelihood of medical injury, and is more closely linked to the incidence of health insurance.
Income also plays a factor:
Medical debt is most common among households earning between $25,000 and $34,999 annually, with 30.8% of such households reporting past-due medical bills. In 16 of the 25 states with lower past-due medical bills, the typical household earns more than $55,775 a year — the national household median income.
In fact, Americans’ ability to buy adequate healthcare coverage is one of the largest factors in the prevalence of medical debt state by state.