Empowering Health Care Consumers

Project Title

Strengthening the Campaign to End Medical Debt in New York State

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Empowering Health Care Consumers

Date Awarded

September 26, 2022


Outside New York State







Medical debt is a crushing burden for New Yorkers. A recent survey found that more than half of New Yorkers struggle to pay medical bills.

Low-income communities and communities of color outside of New York City have been particularly hard hit by medical debt, exacerbating existing health and socioeconomic inequities. A coalition of partners has run a successful End Medical Debt in New York campaign, with NYHealth and other philanthropic support, to advocate for solutions. In 2022, NYHealth awarded the Urban Institute a grant to examine the scope and nature of medical debt across New York State.

Under this grant, the Urban Institute examined the scope and nature of medical debt across New York State and its disproportionate burden on certain communities, including people of color and those with low income. It produced a report that demonstrated how medical debt varies across New York State, regionally and in select counties, and identified medical debt hot spots for common themes such as racial/ethnic composition, income and poverty levels, and uninsurance rates. Urban also examined the average amount of medical debt in communities and saw which ones stand to benefit from credit reporting changes. It produced supplemental data tables that was used to engage policymakers. Findings provided consumers, advocates, and policymakers with the most comprehensive picture of medical debt patterns in New York State to date.

NYHealth also supported two complementary initiatives for ending medical debt in New York State, with grants to the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York and the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Central New York.