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Medical Debt Is a Nationwide Problem, But Black Business Owners Could See Their Bottom Line Impacted Because of It

A mountain of medical debt is keeping Black-owned businesses across the nation from thriving, according to new research published earlier this month.

Black business owners face greater financial challenges along with greater financial barriers to health care, a survey of 4,000 business owners, employees and self-employed workers from Intuit QuickBooks found.

About 40 percent of Black respondents said they have thousands of dollars in medical debt. On average, Black respondents are $18,000 deep in medical debt, the survey also found.

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

The survey results mean “that Black-owned businesses are more than twice as likely as others to be financially stressed right now,” QuickBooks’ data communications manager Simon Worsfold wrote in a blog post about the survey.

Medical debt is a nationwide problem almost as large as the amount of outstanding credit card debt or student loans. As of June 2020, Americans hold roughly $140 billion in past-due medical bills, as shown by Journal of the American Medical Association data.

Black Americans however are carrying disproportionately more debt than other ethnicities, studies have shown. About 28 percent of Black households have medical debt compared to 17 percent of White households, according to the latest U.S. Census data from 2018.

Black Americans are drowning in medical debt because they typically hold jobs where the position doesn’t offer health insurance or the role doesn’t pay enough for workers to cover hospital bills, researchers have said. The trend keeps Black households in debt for decades and robs them of a chance at building wealth, researchers have said.

Unpaid medical bills, which are considered a personal debt, cannot technically torpedo a Black entrepreneur’s company. However, medical debt can still negatively impact the growth of a Black-owned business. For example, if a bill goes unpaid and lowers the person’s credit score, it could lead to a would-be business owner being denied a small business loan.

Read full story at Finurah here.

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