Most support medical debt forgiveness: Survey

June 18, 2024

Most respondents in a new survey said they support the U.S. government forgiving medical debt.

According to the poll, conducted by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press/NORC Research Center, 81 percent of respondents said medical debt forgiveness is important.

Just over 50 percent of respondents said relieving medical debt is extremely or very important — notably a higher percentage than those who said the same for student loan debt, small business loan debt or credit card debt, per the survey.

About 30 percent of respondents said medical debt forgiveness is a somewhat important issue and 19 percent said it’s not important.

The survey also found that 56 percent of respondents favor medical debt forgiveness for people who are experience financial hardship.

Support for medical debt forgiveness is particularly high if someone experienced fraud, according to the poll results. Nearly two-thirds said they support forgiveness for people who have experienced health care fraud, like being wrongfully billed for services.

Just over half, 56 percent, favor debt forgiveness for those who have large amounts of medical debt compared to their income and 59 percent favor forgiving debt for people who have made on-time payments for loans over the last two decades.

Roughly 26 percent of respondents said they themselves or a family member have medical debt.

In the years since the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of cities and states — including Connecticut, New York City, New Orleans and Chicago — have implemented their own version of medical debt forgiveness, The Associated Press reported.

Last week, the Biden administration announced it would be following through on its plans to remove medical debt from being included on credit scores.

“Medical debt makes it more difficult for millions of Americans to be approved for a car loan, a home loan or a small business loans,” Vice President Harris said. “All of which in turn makes it more difficult to just get by much less get ahead. And that is simply not fair”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau previously reported that medical debt is one of the most common forms of debt represented on credit reports.

The latest survey was conducted May 16-21 among 1,309 adults and has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.