The actual amount of medical debt outstanding nationwide is much higher than the reported $75 billion on credit reports. Less than 10 percent of medical debt each year is reported to the credit reporting agencies. It is estimated by RIP that approximately $1 trillion is owed by Americans, accumulated over the last 8-10 years.
Source: Ratcliffe, McKernan, Lou, Hassani, and Quakenbush. 2017. "Debt in America: An Interactive Dashboard." Washington, DC: Urban Institute. Tabulations of data from a major credit bureau (2016) and the American Community Survey (2015). Tabulations of aggregated medical debt data from TransUnion (2017).
As medical costs rise to unspeakable levels, so does un-payable medical debt.
Medical debt has destroyed the financial stability of large segments of America’s most vulnerable communities: the sick, the elderly, the poor, and veterans. It also particularly targets the middle class, driving many families who are barely getting along into poverty.
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Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) members have cleared more than $1 million in medical debt for more than 500 Michigan families in the first such project of its kind in Michigan. This debt relief effort, led by MNA members at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, supports nurses’ call for hospital reforms to ease the burden of excessive medical bills, which is the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy.
When high school student Samir Boussarhane watched Last Week Tonight as John Oliver triumphantly donate a $15 million medical debt portfolio to RIP Medical Debt, so the debt could be forgiven, Samir knew he had to do something locally to make that kind of impact.