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Medical Debt is Killing Patients: One Physician’s View

LACMA is partnering with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to look at a myriad of issues facing physicians and families, from gun violence to access to care to medical debt. As part of our ongoing series to address the medical debt crisis, MedPage Today published one physician’s take on how medical debt impacts all of us.

Americans owed at least $195 billion in medical debt as of 2019, with medical debt disproportionately burdening people of color and adults with disabilities. Medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in our country, and use GoFundMe and other sites to raise funds to pay for their healthcare. But only 12% raise the funds necessary to pay for treatment, and it is incomprehensible that such pleas should be the norm. With healthcare spending predicted to increase by 5.2% by 2026, alleviating medical debt is a critical public health priority.

“As an emergency physician, Pennsylvania state representative, the only physician-legislator in our General Assembly, and the first physician in our legislature in nearly 60 years, I personally believe there is no greater health priority in my state,” writes Dr. Arvind Venkat, an emergency physician.

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