Black Americans Disproportionally Affected by Medical Debt 

By Consumers for Quality Care, on April 24, 2024

Black Americans Disproportionally Affected by Medical Debt 

A study conducted by KFF and reported by Bloomberg, found that while medical debt affects 20 million U.S. adults, Black Americans have the highest rates of medical debt, 13 percent, compared to 7 percent of white Americans, and 3 percent of Asian Americans. 

The fear of incurring medical debt is a leading reason that consumers delay or skip critical care. The implication for Black Americans is concerning, given that Black Americans are more likely to have medical debt and more likely to have long-term health issues and chronic diseases — such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes — that require more complex treatment over longer periods.  

In addition to long-term health issues, Bloomberg also notes that over 50 percent of Black Americans live in the Southern United States, a region where many states have failed to expand Medicaid and have continued to choose policies that undermine the health of Black Americans. Medicaid expansion has been shown to decrease the likelihood of medical debt and improve health outcomes for consumers.  

CQC remains deeply concerned about medical debt in America and how it hurts consumers and burdens society. CQC urges lawmakers and the Biden administration to address the root causes of medical debt and protect consumers.