Oct 13, 2022 - News

Texas' Tarrant County leads the nation in medical debt

Illustration of a sack of money with a medical cross symbol on it.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Dallas-Fort Worth residents carry more medical debt than any other area in the country, Kaiser Health News reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. health care system has pushed over 41% of adults into debt in the form of credit card balances, loans from loved ones and payment plans to cover costs.

  • It's a sobering statistic for a country with the capability of offering some of the best care in the world.

Threat level: Tarrant County has the highest concentration of medical debt in the country's 20 most-populated counties.

  • Dallas County ranks second.

By the numbers: 27% of people in Tarrant County report having medical debt, with a median of $984, per KHN.

  • 23% of people in Dallas County have medical debt, with a median of $994.
  • People in New York and California have the smallest share of medical debt. In New York County, only 3% of people have medical debt and the median amount is $387.

Yes, but: The hospitals in our area continue to thrive and expand their footprint.

Between the lines: People of color have a lower average household income, carry more medical debt and are less likely to have health insurance compared to White patients.

  • In Dallas County, 22% percent of people of color have medical debt in collections compared to 10% of White patients. And the amount owed is higher for people of color.

Meanwhile: Americans don't seem to have a lot of faith in our health care system.

  • Almost 60% believe it's either average or below average and only 15% say it's the best in the world, according to a new Pew report.

The bottom line: The data is yet another measure of racial disparities across the country, and a testament to our country's befuddling approach to health care.


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