An analysis of 43,600 patient accounts at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System with balances greater than $50 at discharge shows that when a family's spending on health care exceeds 3.5 percent of income, a tipping point is reached on the ability to pay.

The 14-hospital delivery system in Great Neck, N.Y., had Chicago-based TransUnion Healthcare conduct the analysis. The tipping point is the percentage of medical debt where a hospital's ability to get paid dramatically declines. While the tipping point is 3.5 percent for North Shore's patient population, it may be different for other organizations' populations.

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