Medical Debt in New York State and Its Unequal Burden across Communities
Empowering Health Care Consumers
July 12, 2023
In New York State, an estimated 6% of consumers—representing approximately 740,000 adults—had medical debt in collections on their credit records as of February 2022. Nearly half of New Yorkers with medical debt owed $500 or more.
A data analysis from the Urban Institute, funded by NYHealth, shows the disparities in medical debt throughout New York State and highlights the potential impact that removing medical debt from credit reports can have to improve financial equity and the wellbeing of all New Yorkers. In June 2023, the New York State Legislature passed a bill, still under the Governor’s consideration, that would prevent all medical debt from being included in credit reports. Read the full analysis.
NYHealth’s interactive maps below show the breakdown of medical debt in collections in New York State using data from the Urban Institute’s new report.
[Figure 1] – Nearly half of New York State consumers with medical debt owed $500 or more, including 30% of consumers with medical debt who owed $1,000 or more.
[Figure 2] – Debt amount was highest in four regions: Mohawk Valley ($687), Southern Tier ($655), Mid-Hudson ($591), and North Country ($561). In the Capital District, communities of color had a median debt amount of $899, two times higher than the median for predominantly white communities ($448). In the Mid-Hudson region, the lowest-income communities had a median debt amount of $737, compared with $478 in the region’s highest-income communities.
[Figure 3] – The share of New York State consumers with medical debt ranged from 3% on Long Island and 4% in New York City to more than 10% in the Southern Tier, North Country, Mohawk Valley, and Central New York regions. The highest rates of medical debt within regions were typically found in communities of color and communities with lower incomes.