Young Black Americans Report Medical Debt Impacts Financial Health

Survey: Black millennials carry four times the medical debt of Black Gen Xers and 10 times more than black baby boomers

Columbus, Ohio, April 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Young Black Americans report that medical debt is impacting their financial health and nearly one in five Black millennials (19%) report that paying for health care is their biggest stressor in retirement, according to a recent National Retirement Institute® survey.

Black millennials report having significantly more medical debt than other generations. Among respondents who could estimate their medical debt, black millennials reported having on average $11,469 in medical debt. That’s four times more than the Black Gen Xers ($2,818) and ten times more than black baby boomers ($1,111).

Black millennials’ outsized medical debt is already impacting their financial outlook and decision-making. Fifty-seven percent say healthcare spending has impacted their financial health, compared to 40% of black Gen Xers and 18% of black baby boomers. Digging deeper into the implications:

  • More than a third of black millennials (35%) skipped or delayed seeking care to save on medical expenses, compared to just 19% of black Gen Xers and 13% of black baby boomers.
  • More than half of Black Millennials (57%) say they have been negatively affected by financial stress, compared to 46% of Black Gen Xers and 27% of Black Baby Boomers.
  • Among black millennials negatively impacted by financial stress, 40% say it has impacted their relationships and 20% say it has impacted their overall health.

“While each person’s path to financial well-being and wealth is unique, our latest data clearly demonstrates that young Black Americans collectively face a challenge to success posed by the cost of health care,” said Kristi Rodriguezsenior vice president of the National Retirement Institute®. “For finance professionals, it is now imperative that you understand the impact of healthcare costs on a long-term financial plan and know what solutions to put in place to ensure success and customer confidence. ”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, black Americans are disproportionate affected by chronic illnesses that drive up their health care costs, and this has only increased due to the pandemic. Black millennials also say they spent on average $6,145 on the costs of health care and personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. That’s ten times more than the Black Gen Xers ($613) and much more than black baby boomers ($269).

One in five black millennials (21%) lack health insurance and those who do are twice as likely to be self-employed and not have access to a group plan. By comparison, 17% of black Gen Xers don’t have health insurance and only 2% of black baby boomers don’t have health insurance.

How can finance professionals support

The good news is that 40% of black millennials have a financial professional, a significantly higher proportion than older generations (Black Gen Xers 27%, Black Baby Boomers 19%). And among millennials who have a financial professional, 77% say they talk to them about the impact of their health and well-being on their wealth.

“Black millennials are right to be concerned about health care costs in retirement, especially if they have a chronic illness,” Rodriguez said. “By integrating healthcare into financial planning conversations, finance professionals can help clients create a more secure and comfortable financial future.”

Finance professionals can click here to learn more about Nationwide’s various ideas and resources.


The National Retirement Institute’s healthcare survey was conducted online 5 August – 24, 2021 in United States of 1,817 adults, including an oversample of 563 Black Americans (202 Black Millennials, 178 Black Gen Xers, 183 Black Baby Boomers) aged 25 and older by The Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide Retirement Institute.

Respondents to these surveys were selected from those who agreed to participate in our surveys. Since the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the online panel, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Data is weighted where necessary by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, income, marital status, household size and propensity to be in line to align them with their actual proportions in the population.

About the Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the oldest surveys in the United States that has tracked public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 and is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and research firm market that provides social intelligence for times of transformation. We work with clients in three main areas: building 21st century corporate reputation, developing brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through PR research. Our mission is to provide information and advice to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit

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This document does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell a financial product or to adopt an investment strategy. Investors should discuss their particular circumstances with their finance professional.

This information is general in nature and is not intended to be tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice. The information provided is based on applicable laws, which may change at any time, and has not been endorsed by any government agency.

Nationwide and The Harris Poll are separate, unaffiliated companies.

Nationwide Investment Services Corporation (NISC), member FINRA, Columbus, Ohio. The National Retirement Institute is a division of the NISC.

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Charles Gillespie
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