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By Sarai Rodriguez

– According to a survey from Discover Person Loans, most consumers face medical debt of more than $2,000. The medical debt impacts most consumers’ financial ability to access medical care and pay for other expenses.

The survey revealed that Americans with medical debt were more anxious about the cost of medical services than the state of their health. The survey found that 63 percent of respondents reported they were anxious about paying their medical debt. Meanwhile, 37 percent of respondents stated they worry about getting better.

“People should be more focused on getting and staying well, rather than feeling held back by medical bills,” Matt Lattman, vice president of personal loans at Discover, said in the survey.

In addition to the reported anxiety, 80 percent of people with medical debt reported delaying their medical care due to cost. For example, 44 percent of Americans with medical debt put off routine care, 39 percent avoided purchasing medicine, 38 percent put off receiving preventative testing, 33 percent put off being seen for an illness, and 27 percent put off surgery.

On top of that, medical debt has caused Americans to delay finical commitments. The survey revealed that 37 percent of Americans with medical debt stopped paying their bills, 32 percent skipped saving for retirement, 28 percent skipped adding to their emergency savings, and 20 percent stopped saving for their child’s college. 

“For many, unplanned costs during the past year created roadblocks in financial journeys, especially for people who were already feeling the strain from other areas of debt and expenses,” Lattman said.

The survey stated many people with medical debt used their credit cards. Instead of using their medical insurance to pay for care, 41 percent of people reported using their credit cards.

Additionally, 27 percent paid for their care by leveraging a payment plan through the hospital, 22 percent used personal loans to cover the cost of care, and 38 percent used their medical insurance to cover the cost of care.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused 58 percent of Americans to address an unexpected expense. Of those, 32 percent had to cover emergency medical expenses.

According to the Discover survey, 53 percent of Americans with existing medical expenses stated the pandemic caused them to take on new medical debt.

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