The Americans most likely to have overdue medical debt are young, low-earning adults with little financial planning according to CBS News.
Even though millennials and young adults are among the healthiest sectors of the American population, the debt that young people can accumulate points to the fact that medical debt preys on the poor rather than just the unhealthy:
The fact that millennials and Generation X are more likely to have medical debt is consistent with wealth,” said Signe-Mary McKernan, co-director of the Urban Institute’s Opportunity and Ownership initiative. “People under 40 today are stagnating. They are barely breaking even with the wealth their parents had in the 1980s.”
With income being the largest determining factor behind medical debt prevalence, it is not surprising that the 10 states with the highest number of citizens with unpaid medical debt are also among the lowest-earning in the country.
Leading the country is Mississippi, with 37.4 percent of citizens reporting some kind of medical debt, and Georgia is in tenth place, with 29.2 percent of citizens in debt.
- Mississippi (37.4 percent)
- Arkansas (36.3 percent)
- West Virginia (33 percent)
- Indiana (32.5 percent)
- South Carolina (32.4 percent)
- Kentucky (30.9 percent)
- Missouri (30.6 percent)
- Oklahoma (30 percent)
- Alabama (30 percent)
- Georgia (29.2 percent)
Families in debt in these states may often struggle to pay only a few hundred dollars worth of debt, which is why financial planning is vital to staying out of debt. Signe-Mary McKernan advises that “Even $250 to $750 can help families weather a financial crisis. It’s never too late to get started.” Saving even a few hundred dollars can greatly alleviate the worry and financial impact of an unexpected accident, and can be the difference between taking on debt or being financially stable.