Two of three bankruptcies stem from medical expenses
The American Journal of Medicine published a study last week derived from data collected before the economic crisis of 2008. The study demonstrated that medical problems contributed to 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies filed between 2001 and 2007. During that period, the proportion of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by nearly 50 percent. Experts believe that the proportion would be even higher today, since the current economy has left more families without coverage and persons suffering a significant illness are even more likely to be without a nest egg to cover exceptional expenses. The study concluded that "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..."
Researchers at Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School and Ohio University compiled the data, which showed that the average medicall bills of uninsured individuals filing for bankruptcy as a result of illness were just under $18,000.00. The average unpaid expenses of those bankrupt persons who were covered by medical insurance prior to filing as a result of medical expenses was just under $27,000.00.
Hospital expenses made up about one-half of the unpaid costs, while prescription drugs and doctor's bills each made up just under one-fifth of the expense. The medical problems leading to bankruptcy with the highest average cost were neurolgical problems such as M.S. ($34 K}; diabetes ($27 K); injuries (25 K); stroke, ($23 K); mental illness, ($23 K) and heart disease ($22 K).