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Medical Costs Drove 8 Million into Poverty Last Year

Michael Rainey

The cost of health care is one of the top issues for voters heading into the 2020 election, and a report from the Census Bureau released week provides a good reminder of why that’s the case.

According to the bureau’s supplemental poverty measure analysis for 2018, which takes a deep dive into the effects that government programs and various types of expenditures have on incomes and the poverty rate, medical expenses pushed about 8 million people into poverty last year.

Medical expenses, which include the costs of care, prescriptions drugs and insurance premiums, “were the largest contributor to increasing the number of individuals in poverty,” the Census said. 

As Axios’ Caitlin Owens noted Monday, the numbers for 2018 actually represent an improvement over the last four years, when an average of 11 million people fell into poverty each year due to medical expenses.


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