Healthcare debt is "far more pervasive" in the United States than previously known, currently impacting 41% of U.S. adults and more than 100 million people across the country, according to a joint study by Kaiser Health News and NPR.
Previous attempts to assess the extent of the medical debt crisis have understated the problem because "much of the debt that patients accrue is hidden as credit card balances, loans from family, or payment plans to hospitals and other medical providers."
The investigation found. "A quarter of adults with healthcare debt owe more than $5,000. And about one in five with any amount of debt said they don't expect to ever pay it off."
Dr. Rishi Manchanda, the CEO of Health Begins, explained that, "We have a health care system almost perfectly designed to create debt."
"Now, a highly lucrative industry is capitalizing on patients' inability to pay," KHN reported.
"Hospitals and other medical providers are pushing millions into credit cards and other loans. These stick patients with high interest rates while generating profits for the lenders that top 29%...Patient debt is also sustaining a shadowy collections business fed by hospitals―including public university systems and nonprofits granted tax breaks to serve their communities―that sell debt in private deals to collections companies that, in turn, pursue patients," the outlet noted.
"It's barbaric," lamented Dr. Miriam Atkins, a Georgia oncologist who told KHN that she has had patients stop their treatment due to fear of racking up massive debt.
'Barbaric' System Saddles Over 100 Million in US With Healthcare Debt (commondreams.org)
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