Half in new poll concerned major health event will lead to bankruptcy
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Half of all U.S. adults are concerned that a major health event among those in their household could lead to bankruptcy, according to a new poll.

The survey, based on a study from West Health and Gallup, found that the percentage of adults who said they were “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about a major health event leading to bankruptcy has gone up from 45 percent in 2019 to 50 percent in 2020. 

The largest spike in the survey, which comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was among nonwhite adults and young adults.


Sixty-four percent of nonwhite adults in the survey said they were concerned that a major health event for someone in their household could lead to bankruptcy, compared to 52 percent who said the same last year.

Among white survey respondents, that number increased from 41 percent in 2019 to 43 percent in 2020.

Fifty-five percent of survey respondents ages 18-29 agreed that they were concerned or extremely concerned, compared to 43 percent who said the same last year.

That number increased 9 points, decreased 4 points and increased 2 points for respondents ages 30-49, 50-64 and 65 and older, respectively.

Among women, the percentage of those who expressed concern increased from 47 percent last year to 51 percent this year. Among male survey respondents, 42 percent said they were “extremely concerned” or “concerned” last year, compared to 49 percent who said the same this year.   

The study also found that 15 percent of U.S. adults polled said they or someone in their household currently has medical debt that they will be unable to repay in the next 12 months. Over one-quarter of survey respondents said they would need to borrow money to pay for a $500 medical bill.

The poll is based on a sample of 1,007 adults in the U.S. interviewed between July 1-24. Results based on the entire sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.