The researchers estimate that in June 2020, roughly one in five people in the U.S. had medical debt in collections—meaning their debt had been sold to a third-party tasked with retrieving the money, often by harassing low-income people who are unable to pay.
“This is not a sign of a broken system,” tweeted Charles Idelson, a spokesperson for National Nurses United. “It’s a profiteering healthcare system working just the way the corporate price gougers want it to—and the collateral damage of those whose lives are harmed by unpayable, outrageously inflated debt is irrelevant to them.”
According to the new study, medical debt was highest among people who live in the South, particularly in “lower-income communities in states that did not expand Medicaid.” A dozen states, all controlled by Republicans, have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, depriving millions of poor and vulnerable people of life-saving health coverage.
“If you think about Americans getting phone calls, letters, and knocks on the door from debt collectors, more often than not it’s because of the U.S. healthcare system,” Neale Mahoney, a health economist at Stanford University and lead author of the paper, told the New York Times.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction