On February 24, 2023, NYHealth hosted a webinar discussion with Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives, Community Service Society of New York, and Sal Curran, Executive Director, Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY. Speakers explored New Yorkers’ experiences with medical debt, the patient and consumer protections already secured in New York State, and additional measures needed to prevent medical debt.

Medical debt is a crushing burden for New Yorkers. More than half of New Yorkers struggle to pay medical bills, and 1 in 20 go into medical debt—discouraging individuals from seeking needed care and threatening their financial health and ability to build wealth. Between 2015 and 2020, more than 53,000 patients in New York were sued by hospitals to collect on medical debt, at times resulting in liens placed on their homes and wages garnished. Low-income communities and communities of color outside of New York City have been hit particularly hard by these extreme billing practices.

Patients, consumer advocates, policymakers, and journalists alike have sounded the alarm: No New Yorker should go into financial ruin because of a health care emergency or illness. A coalition of partners across the State has formed an End Medical Debt in New York campaign, and New York State is already taking action to prevent or mitigate the harms of medical debt on patients.

Watch the webinar recording here.

A new analysis from the Urban Institute, funded by NYHealth, digs deeper into localized patterns of medical debt across New York State and finds that communities of color and communities with lower incomes experience the highest rates of medical debt. This examination of medical debt across communities within each region has revealed racial and ethnic disparities that go overlooked when focusing only on statewide patterns.

Read the brief here: Medical Debt in New York State Varies Widely Across Regions and Communities

Back to Event Recaps