Despite recent improvements in health insurance coverage accessa substantial share of Americans continues to grapple with the burden of unpaid medical bills. This widespread problem not only affects households’ financial stability but also hampers a person’s ability to access necessary medical care, raising the risk of poor health outcomes.

The impact of medical debt can be especially acute in immigrant communities. Often arriving in the US in pursuit of better opportunities, immigrants frequently face barriers to stable employment and financial security that are compounded by language barriers and restrictive eligibility for safety net programs. As a result, many immigrants find themselves in disadvantaged economic situations, making the burden of medical expenses heavy.

Immigrants are also disproportionately less likely than US-born residents to have health insurance because of gaps in eligibility for Medicaid and Marketplace coverage and immigrants’ underrepresentation in jobs that provide employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. Lacking coverage further complicates immigrants’ abilities to access affordable health care services and, when combined with the fear of discrimination and potential deportation, can lead to delays in medical treatment until conditions worsen and treatment becomes more expensive.

We partnered with KFF Health News to explore an example of medical debt among immigrant communities. We chose to conduct our in-depth analysis in Colorado because of the state’s large foreign-born population—about 1 in 10 residents in the state is an immigrant—and substantial disparities in medical debt. Our investigation revealed that medical debt in collections is concentrated in areas in the state with large immigrant populations.

Read the full article about medical debt by Fredric Blavin and Breno Braga at Urban Institute.