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Bankruptcies resulting from unpaid medical bills will affect nearly 2 million people this year—making health care the No. 1 cause of such filings, and outpacing bankruptcies due to credit-card bills or unpaid mortgages, according to new data. And even having health insurance doesn't buffer consumers against financial hardship.
The findings are from NerdWallet Health, a division of the price-comparison website. It analyzed data from the U.S. Census, Centers for Disease Control, the federal court system and the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that promotes access, quality and efficiency in the health-care system.
"A lot of Americans are struggling with medical bills," said NerdWallet Health Vice President Christina LaMontagne.
NerdWallet estimates that households containing 1.7 million people will file for bankruptcy protection this year.
Even outside of bankruptcy, about
56 million adults—more than 20 percent of the population between the ages of 19 and 64—will still struggle with health-care-related bills this year, according to NerdWallet Health.
And if you think only Americans without health insurance face financial troubles, think again. NerdWallet estimates nearly 10 million adults with year-round health-insurance coverage will still accumulate medical bills that they can't pay off this year.
High-deductible insurance plans requiring consumers to pay more out-of-pocket costs are a challenge for many households.
"With an average American family bringing home $50,000 in income, a high medical bill and a high-deductible insurance plan can quickly become something they are unable to pay," LaMontagne said. "If you have an out-of-pocket maximum of $5,000 or $10,000, that's really tough," he said.
The analysis of rising health costs is the first of its kind for NerdWallet.