93% of Americans Who Negotiate A Medical Bill Get It Eliminated or Reduced

Monday, March 29th, 2021

LendingTree, the nation's leading online loan marketplace, released its study highlighting the impact medical debt is having on Americans' finances. The survey found that medical debt is keeping Americans from achieving major personal and financial milestones. Additionally, although more than half of Americans (60%) have been burdened with medical debt, nearly everyone (93%) who negotiates a medical bill has their bill reduced or dropped altogether.

Key findings

  • 60% of Americans have been in debt due to medical bills. 37% owe medical debt, and 23% have had medical debt in the past. Most consumers with medical debt owe thousands of dollars. On average, they owe between $5,000 and $9,999.
  • The top drivers of medical debt are often unpredictable, unavoidable procedures. These include emergency room visits (39%), doctor or specialist visits (28%), surgery (26%), childbirth (22%) and dental care (20%).
  • 72% of those who have medical debt said it prevents them from achieving key milestones. 34% said it prevents them from saving for retirement, a fifth (19%) said it's preventing them from buying a home, and 10% said it prevents them from having kids.
  • Three in four people who have had medical debt tried to negotiate their bill. Nearly all of those who did negotiate (93%) had their bill reduced or dropped altogether.

To view the full report, visit

LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to field an online survey of 1,550 Americans, conducted Feb. 19, 2021 through Feb. 22, 2021. The survey was administered using a non-probability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.

We defined generations as the following ages in 2021:

  • Generation Z: 18 to 24

  • Millennial: 25 to 40

  • Generation X: 41 to 55

  • Baby boomer: 56 to 75

While the survey also included consumers from the silent generation (defined as those 76 and older), the sample size was too small to include findings related to that group in the generational breakdowns.