Nearly 20 per cent of US consumers - 42.9 million people - had unpaid medical debts, according to a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, AP reported.
According to the findings, many US citizens were being trapped by debt as they were confused by the notices they got from hospitals and insurance companies about the cost of treatment.
Consequently millions of US citizens might be surprised to find they were stuck with lower credit scores, which made it harder for them to borrow to buy a home or an automobile.
According to CFPB director Richard Cordray, when people fell ill and ended up at the hospital with unexpected bills, far too often they had entered into a financial maze.
On average, a person with only overdue medical debt owed $1,766, while people with unpaid medical bills and other sources of debt - possibly credit cards or back taxes owed an average of $5,638.
Over half of all debt on credit reports stemmed from medical expenses.
According to the report by the federal regulator much of this trouble could be avoided.
About half of consumers who only carried medical debt had no other signs of being under financial distress, though, complaints to the CFPB indicated that consumers were routinely baffled by medical bills.