Medical Debt

Medical debt is money owed for any medical service or product to a health care provider or third-party agent, such as a collection agency. In 2011, about 20 percent of Americans reported having some difficulty paying a medical bill, with disproportionately high numbers of low-income, Latino and Black families and adults under 65 reporting problems. Medical debt can have profound long-term effects on families, even those with private insurance coverage and middle-class incomes. Economic problems linked to medical debt include home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies, and tarnished credit. Health-related consequences include patients delaying medically necessary treatment and prevention because of costs.

Along with our state and local partners, Community Catalyst is working to alleviate three main causes of medical debt:

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