"78% of bankruptcy filers burdened by healthcare expenses were insured"

The L.A. Times reports on a new study by Harvard researchers:

The [Harvard] study found that medical bills, plus related problems such as lost wages for the ill and their caregivers, contributed to 62% of all bankruptcies filed in 2007. On the campaign trail last year and in the White House this year, Obama had cited an earlier study by the same authors showing that such expenses played a part in 55% of bankruptcies in 2001.

Medical insurance isn’t much help, either. About 78% of bankruptcy filers burdened by healthcare expenses were insured, according to the survey, to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

“Health insurance is not a guarantee that illness won’t bankrupt you,” said Steffie Woolhandler, one of the authors, a practicing physician and an associate medical professor at Harvard.

“Lots of health insurance comes with big co-payments, deductibles and uncovered services,” she said. “So you can be insured and still end up with big bills. At the same time, even if you have good insurance through your employer, you can lose it if you get sick and can’t work.”

Most people who filed medical-related bankruptcies “were solidly middle class before financial disaster hit,” the study says. Two-thirds were homeowners, and most had gone to college.

Medical costs in America are totally absurd. And our system of rationing healthcare by wealth is insane.

Posted by James on Thursday, June 04, 2009