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Study: Young adults are the ones with the most medical debt

As we get older, the amount of money we spend on health care generally increases. That’s only natural. Our bodies start to break down and don’t work as well as they used to. Sometimes, years of unhealthy living or perhaps old injuries from our youth catch up with us.

Therefore, it would seem likely that older people would have more medical debt than those a generation or two behind them. However, according to a study in Health Affairs, even though young people have less medical spending, they have more medical debt. The study defined “medical debt” as unpaid medical bills referred to collection agencies.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people without health insurance and those in lower-income households were more likely to have medical debt, and their debt was larger than those with insurance. However, insurance isn’t a guarantee against debt. Some of those with medical debt had high-deductible plans that require a significant out-of-pocket expense by the patient before coverage kicks in. However, most of the unpaid bills sent to collection agencies totaled under $600.

The Health Affairs study charted medical spending and medical debt by age. The amount of debt rose from the ages of 18 into the later 20s. However, it began falling significantly and fairly steadily from age 27 into the later 60s. Meanwhile, medical spending rose significantly with age.

Unfortunately, serious illness and injury can strike at any age. Young adults, with or without insurance, can find themselves buried in medical debt they can’t pay off — particularly if they are unable to work for a time as they recover. Bankruptcy may or may not be the best way out of that debt. It’s worth reviewing your options for getting your finances back on track with an experienced Tennessee bankruptcy attorney.