Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study
Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study, David U. Himmelstein, MD, Deborah Thorne, PhD, Elizabeth Warren, JD, Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH. The American Journal of Medicine (2009)."Our 2001 study in 5 states found that medical problems contributed to at least 46.2% of all bankruptcies. Since then, health costs and the numbers of un- and underinsured have increased, and bankruptcy laws have tightened...Using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92% of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5000, or 10% of pretax family income. The rest met criteria for medical bankruptcy because they had lost significant income due to illness or mortgaged a home to pay medical bills. Most medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Three quarters had health insurance. Using identical definitions in 2001 and 2007, the share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6%. In logistic regression analysis controlling for demographic factors, the odds that a bankruptcy had a medical cause was 2.38-fold higher in 2007 than in 2001. Illness and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of US bankruptcies."
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