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Medical Debt Sending Many Over Financial Brink
Date:10/28/2008

call them, and their tone of voice changes. You've damaged personal relationships. People are less excited about seeing you."

By 2004, their health insurance policy had a maximum out-of-pocket exposure of $9,000, and they were sued by a dermatologist for an unpaid bill. The amount? A mere $600.

Donna's wages were garnished, and the couple were forced to declared bankruptcy and sold their house for pennies on the dollar, all while they were technically fully insured.

The couple first moved in with a daughter living in Colorado and are now renting in Chicago.

"I don't know if we have enough working years left to buy a house," Donna said. "That's pretty heavy punishment for having gotten sick."

More information

The Access Project has more on medical debt.



SOURCES: Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., associate professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Carol Pryor, senior policy analyst, The Access Project, Boston; Donna Smith, community organizer, California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee, Chicago; Deborah Krinsky, Magalia, Calif; Oct. 7, 2008, teleconference with Mike Leavitt, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary; August 2008, Commonwealth Fund survey


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