February 3, 2023

Millions in U.S. with health care debt

New research says 100 million in U.S. saddled with debt from health care


A growing number of Americans are delaying important medical care because of the high cost of treatment, a new survey shows.

In 2022, 38% of Americans said they or a family member skipped or delayed medical care, amid the highest rate of inflation in more than 40 years, according to an annual health care poll from Gallup.

The jump reflects an increase of 12 percentage points compared to 2021 and marks the highest year-to-year increase in Americans delaying health care, including evaluations, treatments and procedures, since Gallup began conducting the poll in 2001. 

The previous high was 33% of Americans in both 2014 and 2019 who said they avoided medical care because of cost. Over the previous two years, 26% of Americans — the lowest share since 2004 — said they delayed seeking care for either themselves or a family member. 

Worryingly, 27% of respondents said the treatments they skipped were for “very” or “somewhat” serious conditions or illnesses. Eleven percent said they neglected to pursue care for non-serious illnesses. 

Lower-income adults, as well as younger adults and women, were more likely than their counterparts to delay care for serious medical conditions. Americans with household incomes under $40,000 were almost twice as likely as those making $100,000 or more to report that they or a family member delayed care for a serious medical condition. 

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