In a groundbreaking move, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed in April 2022 to remove medical debt from credit reports, potentially offering millions of Americans a chance to rebuild their financial health. To understand the implications of this decision and its reception among the public, Tebra conducted a survey of 1,000 American patients. The survey’s demographic spread included 53 percent female, 47 percent male, and 1 percent non-binary respondents, with an average age of 48. This diverse cohort included 10 percent baby boomers, 26 percent Gen X, 55 percent millennials, and 9 percent Gen Z. Overall, the findings reveal a landscape of financial distress and a collective yearning for change.
The Burden of Medical Debt
According to CFPB research, about one in five Americans are burdened with medical debt, summing up to an alarming $88 billion on 43 million credit reports. This debt significantly impacts their ability to access credit, loans, and housing, trapping many in a cycle of financial instability.
Tebra’s Survey: A Deep Dive into Patient Perspectives
The Tebra survey aimed to capture the sentiments of Americans towards the CFPB’s proposal and the current medical debt crisis. Here are the key takeaways:
- Only 32 percent of respondents felt informed about the CFPB’s proposal, indicating a significant gap in public awareness.
- A resounding 80 percent supported the initiative to exclude medical bills from credit reports.
- Over 90 percent had experienced financial setbacks due to medical debt on their credit report.
- 60 percent believed that the CFPB’s initiative would improve their financial health and mental peace.
The Common Struggle with Medical Debt
The survey highlighted that 57 percent of Americans have been unable to pay a medical bill on time or in full, and nearly 40 percent have been struggling with medical debt for the past five years. The pervasive nature of this issue is further underlined by the fact that 90 percent have suffered financial setbacks due to medical debt on their credit reports.
The Impact on Mental Health
A significant 62 percent of respondents stated that the removal of medical debt from credit reports would improve their mental and financial health. This is a stark reminder of the often-overlooked emotional and psychological toll of financial distress.
An Opportunity for Policy Change
The strong support for the CFPB’s proposed change underscores a societal shift towards a more empathetic approach to healthcare costs. However, the survey revealed that only a third of Americans are aware of the proposal, highlighting the need for better communication and public awareness.
Fostering Financial Stability and Peace of Mind
The CFPB’s initiative is more than just a policy change; it’s a potential lifeline for millions, especially during this time of economic uncertainty. By prioritizing financial and mental well-being, the CFPB can create a more compassionate system that acknowledges the unique challenges posed by medical debt.
This survey has illuminated a critical issue facing Americans, revealing a deep-seated crisis and a strong public endorsement for the CFPB’s proposal to exclude medical debt from credit reports. While the survey indicates a significant gap in public awareness, the overwhelming support for this policy change reflects a societal shift towards a more compassionate healthcare system. This initiative, if enacted, could not only relieve financial burdens but also improve mental health for millions. As we move forward, it is crucial to bridge the knowledge gap and continue advocating for policies that address the complex challenges of medical debt, fostering a healthcare environment that supports both financial stability and emotional well-being.