The covid-19 pandemic highlighted glaring inequalities in the U.S. based on race but those disparities extend beyond access and quality of healthcare to medical debt.
Black America, which comprises 14.6 percent of the U.S. population, is bogged down in medical debt. Black people hold 31 percent of the medical debt in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census. Some wealth inequality experts have pushed for medical debt to be included in reparations.
President Joe Biden’s much-touted “Build Back Better by Advancing Racial Equity Across the American Economy” plan aims to promote racial equity through homeownership, affordable housing, small business opportunities, and tuition-free education for Black people. But it leaves out medical debt.
Medical debt is defined as medical costs people were unable to pay upfront or when they received care. The median amount owed was $2,000 in 2017, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).
According to the survey, 27.9 percent of households with a Black member had past-due medical bills compared to 17.2 percent of households with a white non-Hispanic householder, according to the U.S. Census.
“Which makes it all the more sad that black leadership seems to only want to represent the entrepreneurial class” one boss same as the next @SeanMcC11135001 tweeted.
The Jakester @JakeAndTheMztks tweeted, “The term ‘medical debt’ makes me wanna revolt real hard.”
Overall racial wealth inequalities have helped cause the medical debt crisis for Black America. In a Catch-22 scenario, medical debt can widen the wealth gap as people with medical debt are often unable to build wealth through such things as homeownership. Forty percent of people with medical debt have been denied the opportunity to secure a mortgage loan, Greenlining reported.
Black people also tend to have medical conditions such as heart disease and certain cancers that can increase medical debt.
Racial differences in insurance coverage play a major role. Black adults are nearly one-and-a-half times more likely to be uninsured than white non-elderly adults (17 percent versus 12 percent), making them more likely to experience difficulties paying their medical bills, Urban Wire reported.
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