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Medical Debt, US Pandemic

Medical debt is widespread in the US. This video reviews causes and consequences. And considers solutions. Single payer would end medical debt.

June 13, 2024

The State of Medical Debt in the U.S.
(2-hour video with ten experts)
Lown Institute
May 20, 2024
Website article by Noelle Serino

Medical debt has reached epidemic levels in the United States, impacting millions of Americans and creating barriers to good health. “This is a mammoth problem that is seriously impairing the mental health, the physical health, and the productivity of our country”, said Dr. Vikas Saini, President of the Lown Institute.

“We need to enact some sort of universal, publicly-funded national single-payer plan that is administered at the state and local levels with comprehensive, lifetime benefits, dental, vision, mental health care, and so forth” said Berneta Haynes, Senior Attorney, National Consumer Law Center. 

The link provides access to a two-hour video of a panel of experts covering the topics of 1) scope of the problem, 2) drivers of medical debt, 3) insights from new research, and 4) opportunities and challenges for change.


Comment by: Don McCanne

Our nation continues to demonstrate how our reliance on private health insurance has been a mistake, especially when considering the financial burden that it places on lower-income individuals. For national statistics on medical debt prevalence and consequences, see here and other HJM posts.

What is difficult to understand is that we know that adoption of a national single payer program would not only prevent such financial hardships, but it would also ensure affordable access to a high-performance health care delivery system for absolutely everyone.

What on earth is preventing us from moving forward with the enactment and implementation of such a program? We certainly have the supporting data, but where is our will?



About the Commentator, Don McCanne

Don McCanne is a retired family practitioner who dedicated the 2nd phase of his career to speaking and writing extensively on single payer and related issues. He served as Physicians for a National Health Program president in 2002 and 2003, then as Senior Health Policy Fellow. For two decades, Don wrote "Quote of the Day", a daily health policy update which inspired HJM.

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