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Medical Bills Cause More Than 60% of U.S. Personal Bankruptcies

June 4, 2009

The Republicans tell us there is no reason for health insurance reform, as envisioned by the Democrats, in the United States at this time.

The facts dispute the GOP.

Medical bills are involved in more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, an increase of 50 percent in just six years, U.S. researchers reported Thursday.

More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts, the team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine.

“Using a conservative definition, 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92 percent of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5,000, or 10 percent of pretax family income,” the researchers wrote. “Most medical debtors were well-educated, owned homes and had middle-class occupations.”

  1. June 5, 2009 10:26 AM

    “More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts…”

    Count mine as one among them.

  2. June 5, 2009 10:10 AM

    I think that we may be missleading people with this 60% statistic. I know 2 people who declared bankruptcy after expensive medical bills. But that isn’t the whole story. Both were working only 40 hours per week (I work 40 to 60). Both had huge credit card debt because they were living beyond their means. One owed back payments to cable, internet and cell phone companies. One had nicer clothes and jewlery than me even though I make more money. One always found beer money on weekends yet never paid me back the money he owed me. Both would have been able to handle their medical bills if they had been living responsibly. If either had saved 7 to 10% of their salaries they’d have been fine. One guy even refused health insurance that his employer offered because he thought he was young and healthy and he wanted the extra $70 per month. In this country we live irresponsibly and then want someone else to bail us out. Before we ask hospitals, drug companies, doctors, nurses etc to sacrifice to provide cheaper healthcare, we need to look in the mirror. We need to look at our own finincially irresponsible lives. Our own unhealthy habits that lead to some of our medical problems. I do think that health costs are too high but this statistic may not be the best measure. If you said what percent of medical bankruptcy people are working, saving and without credit card debt you may find that it is 10 to 20% not 60%.

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