Navigation Links
Medical Bills Driving Most Middle-Class Bankruptcies

Private insurance isn't covering costs as promised, report's authors say

THURSDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- In 2007, medical problems and expenses contributed to nearly two-thirds of all bankruptcies in the United States, a jump of nearly 50 percent from 2001, new research has found.

Since the data used in the study were collected prior to the current economic downturn, it's likely that the current rate of medical-related bankruptcies is even higher, said the researchers at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University.

They randomly surveyed 2,314 bankruptcy filers in early 2007 and found that 77.9 percent of those bankrupted by medical problems had health insurance at the start of the bankrupting illness, including 60 percent who had private coverage.

Most of those bankrupted by medical problems were "solidly middle class" before they suffered financial disaster -- two-thirds were homeowners and three-fifths had gone to college. In many cases, these people were hit at the same time by high medical bills and loss of income as illness forced breadwinners to take time off work. It was common for illness to lead to job loss and the disappearance of work-based health insurance.

The study also found that well-insured families often had to cope with high out-of-pocket medical costs for co-payments, deductibles and uncovered services. Medical bills for medically bankrupt families with private insurance averaged $17,749, compared to $26,971 for the uninsured and $22,568 for those who initially had private coverage but lost it during their illness.

The highest average costs were incurred by people with diabetes ($26,971) and neurological disorders ($34,167), the researchers found.

Hospital bills were the largest single expense for about half of all medically bankrupt families, while prescription drugs were the largest expense for 18.6 percent, according to the study in the August issue of the American Journal of Medicine, which was published online June 4.

"Our findings are frightening. Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," lead author Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a news release from the Physicians for a National Health Program.

"For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, co-payments and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse. And even the best job-based health insurance often vanishes when a prolonged illness causes job loss -- precisely when families need it most. Private health insurance is a defective product, akin to an umbrella that melts in the rain," Himmelstein said.

The findings show that, as a nation, "we need to rethink health reform," added study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a primary care physician.

"Covering the uninsured isn't enough. Reform also needs to help families who already have insurance by upgrading their coverage and assuring that they never lose it. Only single-payer national health insurance can make universal, comprehensive coverage affordable by saving the hundreds of billions we now waste on insurance overhead and bureaucracy," Woolhandler said in the news release.

"Unfortunately, Washington politicians seem ready to cave in to insurance firms and keep them and their counterfeit coverage at the core of our system. Reforms that expand phony insurance -- stripped-down plans riddled with co-payments, deductibles and exclusions -- won't stem the rising tide of medical bankruptcy," Woolhandler concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about health insurance.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Physicians for a National Health Program, news release, June 4, 2009

Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Advances in Medical Technology Identified as a Primary Driver of Increased Costs
2. MD On-Line Inc. Acquires Medical Claim Corp.
3. Over 60 percent of all US bankruptcies attributable to medical problems
4. Cantel Medical Reports a 109% Increase in Net Income - EPS of $0.25 vs. $0.12 for Quarter Ended April 30, 2009
5. Best Practices for Hospitals Moving to Electronic Medical Records
6. Johnson & Johnson Highlights Pharmaceutical Growth Strategies and Robust Pipeline to Address Unmet Medical Needs
7. SignatureForum Reveals Top-Rated Aesthetic Medical Practices in U.S.
8. Cardiac Science to Present at Needham Biotechnology & Medical Technology Conference
9. New Health Monitoring and Health Tracking Website,, Helps Health Consumers Organize Important Medical Data
10. Illinois Medical District Recognizes Officers of its District Security Group
11. Illness, medical bills linked to nearly two-thirds of bankruptcies
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Medical Bills Driving Most Middle-Class Bankruptcies
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... The directory is specialized and only includes chiropractic clinics in the US. , ... and trustworthy alternative health practitioner when back pain sets in. When people are ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Flint, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 ... ... a safe and fun atmosphere for Halloween festivities, the Word of Life Christian ... classic children’s board game, and featuring a giant 1.25 ton pile of candy ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... During ... fundraising campaign to raise funds for its research, education, support, and advocacy efforts. ... organization’s annual funding. , The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, which also goes by ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... Catalyst continuing education course in Dallas, TX, on January 29 and 30, 2016. ... to improve the functions of their practices, to learn how to better succeed ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... comparison chart and ingredient list of its hemorrhoid ointment to its website. , ... pain relief for people suffering from hemorrhoids. Adding the comparison chart and ingredient ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015   Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG ... first MRI guided user interface and automatic scan parameter ... MR Conditional implants, such as knee and hip replacements, ... Society of North America Annual Meeting (RSNA) . The ... confidence of this growing patient population. ScanWise Implant adds ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... -- North America was valued at ... a CAGR of 7.6% from 2015 to 2020. --> ... in 2014, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of ... new Market Research Report "North America Cardiac Output Monitoring Devices Market ... care, others) - Analysis And Forecast To 2020", the cardiac output ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... KONG, Nov. 30, 2015 (HK$,000)For the Six Months Ended 30 September 2015 ... Income , 421,979 , 384,242 , ... , 34,719 , (18.3) Medical Insurance ... , 16.1 Medical Devices and Accessories Sales , ... Chinese Herbal Medicines Sales , 2,822 , ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: