It was reported recently that nearly two out of three bankruptcies come about as a result of medical bills. Even people with health insurance face financial disaster if they experience a serious illness, according to a new study. The study data, published online on June 4th in The American Journal of Medicine, may understate the full scope of the problem because the data was collected before the current economic crisis. In 2007, medical problems contributed to 62.1% of all bankruptcies. Between 2001 and 2007, the percentage of all bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by about 50%. The study authors wrote:
The U.S. health care financing system is broken, and not only for the poor and uninsured. Middle-class families frequently collapse under the strain of a health care system that treats physical wounds, but often inflicts fiscal ones.
The data on medical bankruptcy, compiled by researchers at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University, is based on a survey of 2,314 randomly selected bankruptcy filers during early 2007. Among families who were bankrupted by illness, those with private insurance reported average medical bills of $17,749 compared to those who were uninsured, who faced an average of $26,971 in medical costs. Those who had health insurance, but lost it in the course of their illness, reported average medical bills of $22,568.
The Times reports that hospital costs accounted for about half the expenses (48%), followed by prescription drugs (18.6%), doctor’s bills (15.1%) and insurance premiums (4.1%). Medical equipment and nursing home care rounded out the list. Hopefully, Congress will deal with the healthcare issue and reform a broken system. Everybody in this country deserves health insurance and hopefully that will become a reality very soon.
Source: New York Times
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