Study: Half of U.S. households carry medical debt on credit cards
In a recent survey of nearly 1,000 adults across the country, researchers found that credit card debt has declined, and that people are paying fewer late fees and generally using credit cards more responsibly. But the survey also revealed a problem that is indicative of a much larger issue in Douglasville and throughout the U.S.: nearly half of U.S. households carry debt from out-of-pocket medical expenses on their credit cards.
The survey, which questioned 997 adults who had carried credit card balances for three or more months, was an attempt to gauge the success of the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. In many areas, the CARD Act appears to be successful. The average credit card debt has declined from &9,887 in 2008 to $7,145 today, and about one-third of households are reportedly paying down their credit card balances faster.
In addition, fewer than 30 percent of respondents stated that they were paying late fees, a significant drop from 2008’s 50 percent.
However, the survey showed that there are some issues that the CARD Act is simply unable to resolve. About 60 percent of the survey respondents said that medical bills contributed to their current credit card debt amounts, and more than three-fourths said that they had paid out-of-pocket medical expenses in the last three years.
What is the most disconcerting about the inability to pay for routine medical expenses is the very real possibility that it will affect health. About half of the survey respondents who had medical debt said that they had skipped a doctor visit, foregone a test or delayed filling a prescription in order to reduce or avoid medical costs.
Source: New York Times, “Medical Costs Contribute to Credit Card Debt,” Ann Carrns, May 22, 2012