As the cost of going to the doctor and getting medical treatment continues to rise a new report finds a growing number of New Jersey residents are struggling with significant medical debt.

New Jersey Citizen Action, in partnership with the HealthCare Value Hub at Altarum, has issued a report that finds almost 4 in 10 Garden State residents (38%) have overdue medical bills.

Laura Waddell, the health care program director at NJ Citizen Action said even though 96% of New Jersey residents have some form of medical insurance “nearly 3 in 10 respondents reported owing $5,000 or more in medical debt.”

The report finds 11% of Jersey residents have more than $10,000 in medical debt.

Medical Emergency
Fuse ThinkStock

Why is medical debt spiking?

She said New Jerseyans report a number of factors are causing problems.

“49% percent said their medical debt was incurred because their service was not covered, 33% said the deductible was too high,” she said.

The survey finds 36% of white respondents, 40% of Black respondents and almost half of Hispanics in New Jersey reported avoiding getting care because of medical debt.

She pointed out that Jersey residents who have this problem “do find themselves on the receiving end also in the receiving end of aggressive billing tactics.”


Costs are too high

"For New Jerseyans who have one of the highest costs of living in the country, the need to address this growing medical debt crisis is greater than ever," Waddell said.

She noted medical debt may negatively impact residents’ physical health by incentivizing them to ration needed care for loved ones. More than 1 in 3 New Jersey respondents (36%) report that their medical debt has prevented them or someone living with them from seeking needed care.

“You might not think this kind of problem would be so great for people with insurance,” she said, “but clearly it is.”

After the report was released, Debbie White, the president of Health Professional and Allied Employees, said medical debt “is a scourge across the nation and New Jersey is not immune. This survey found that almost half of respondents with hospital-incurred medical debt were not informed by their hospital of its financial assistance plan or about charity care.”

She noted that “hospitals have a statutory obligation to inform every patient of possible financial assistance when receiving care. That information alone would prevent medical debt for so many New Jerseyans.”

Beth Beaudin-Seiler, the director of Healthcare Value Hub, said “the data upends any assumptions that medical debt is exclusive to individuals who are uninsured, in poor health or earning lower incomes. Given the health and financial impacts of medical debt, policymakers should continue to prioritize policies that address medical debt across a broad spectrum of individuals.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

States with the most registered hunters

Stacker analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine which states have the most registered hunters. Read on to see how your state ranks on Stacker’s list.

RANKED: Here Are the 63 Smartest Dog Breeds

Does your loyal pup's breed make the list? Read on to see if you'll be bragging to the neighbors about your dog's intellectual prowess the next time you take your fur baby out for a walk. Don't worry: Even if your dog's breed doesn't land on the list, that doesn't mean he's not a good boy--some traits simply can't be measured.

LOOK: What are the odds that these 50 totally random events will happen to you?

Stacker took the guesswork out of 50 random events to determine just how likely they are to actually happen. They sourced their information from government statistics, scientific articles, and other primary documents. Keep reading to find out why expectant parents shouldn't count on due dates -- and why you should be more worried about dying on your birthday than living to 100 years old.

More From 105.7 The Hawk