Medical debt affects Americans in different, often overwhelming ways, but there are a few emotions that people feel more often than others. 

RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit targeting the cost of unexpected medical events, and GlassView, a video advertising distribution platform, recently teamed up to measure how viewers responded to ads about the national medical debt crisis. The most common reactions to two RIP Medical Debt video ads were feelings of disgust and confusion, according to an audit conducted by Realeyes.

The ads resulted in high attention volume, the companies said, noting that more than 50% of viewers were attentive to narratives. Still, the ads stoked strong, negative emotions among viewers when discussing medical debt and “highlighted successful message delivery driving consumers to action.”

Both organizations said that a “strategic recalibration” of their advertising efforts driven by an analysis of the audience responses has resulted in “tens of thousands of additional website views” as well as a deeper understanding of the issue of medical debt. 

“The insights we received from the emotional response study were fascinating and shed a lot of light on everyday people’s responses to the medical debt crisis,” RIP Medical Debt CEO Allison Sesso said in a statement. “This sentiment tracking will directly inform the public facing materials we create going forward and help us continue to remove the stigma associated with this important issue. In these times of economic uncertainty, we will be more informed and better equipped to fundraise effectively and abolish medical debt for people in need.”

Mounting medical debt has grown into a nationwide crisis in recent years, factoring into conversations about how to revamp the healthcare system in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a 2022 Survey of Income and Program Participation, Americans owe at least $195 billion in medical debt. 

Recognizing the severity of the problem at hand, GlassView and RIP Medical Debt are not the only companies that have taken the initiative to close the medical debt gap.

Last year, NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders teamed with Aflac on the Close the Gap initiative to assist Americans impacted by medical debt. The supplemental insurance company announced in late 2021 that it would provide $1 million in grants throughout 2022 to people affected by the cost of unexpected medical events.