HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing


Colour me surprised. Not.

WASHINGTON – Medical bills are involved in more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, an increase of 50 percent in just six years, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts, the team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine.

“Using a conservative definition, 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92 percent of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5,000, or 10 percent of pretax family income,” the researchers wrote.

“Most medical debtors were well-educated, owned homes and had middle-class occupations.”

The researchers, whose work was paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said the share of bankruptcies that could be blamed on medical problems rose by 50 percent from 2001 to 2007.

“Unless you’re Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy,” Harvard’s Dr. David Himmelstein, an advocate for a single-payer health insurance program for the United States, said in a statement.

“For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection,” he added.

Remember my call for universal healthcare? When I read stats like these, I’m really not convinced that the current healthcare system in the US can be sustained for much longer.

I still maintain that the people who are against universal healthcare, are the ones who have adequate health insurance.

Can you imagine having to file bankruptcy because you were unfortunate enough to get cancer? Talk about a double whammy.


  • Sam
    June 12
    11:45 pm

    Not that I want to add another dimension to this argument…but I have to say it.

    A lot of the reason medical care is so expensive in our country is that a lot of people are willing to sue anyone, at the drop of a hat. Dr.’s get sued, pharmaceutical companies get sued, nurses can get sued. Any damn person can sue any other damn person…and they do. Then, to recoup their losses, the people and companies that get sued raise their prices…so we all pay.

    Now, I know Dr.’s and nurses screw up. And sometimes the malpractice is so egregious that they deserve to get sued. But, certainly not always and probably not near as often as it is that they get sued.

    So, in some ways, our culture has brought on it’s own problems.

    Would people that want UHC be willing to accept a basic plan (you only get very basic care…inoculations, access to Dr.’s and prescriptions and hospice like care when the reaper comes calling…including medicine to ease the pain but nothing ‘heroic’ done for you) that costs nothing. But then, have different levels that you can pay for…up to and including the ‘heroic measures’ included one that will cost some $$$. Or is that still too ‘unfair’ (even though every person/family would have the same options)??? Just questioning, as it seems some sort of compromise will have to be met.



  • I’ve not posted on this topic because it makes me so upset that it’s hard for me to remain unemotional. Until my husband was laid off right before Christmas 2007 we had good insurance. It was expensive, but to our minds well worth it. When he lost his job our insurance went bye-bye. COBRA, crazy expensive as it is wasn’t an option because he worked for a small company. I’d already been searching for work for months with no luck, and was in a panic over the thought of my son not having coverage. Fortunately, I was able to find insurance for him through a low-income plan provided by the state under SCHIP.

    We were fortunate that my husband found a job within a few months. They had insurance, but it would cost roughly a quarter of his income to provide coverage for the three of us. Considering that we’d moved to a much more expensive town, it simply wasn’t possible. So, we got the individual coverage for him. I could breathe a sigh of relief because we got an individual plan for my son as well. Bizarrely enough, we’re charged an extra premium because according to their charts my son is overweight. Uh, I can literally count the boy’s ribs. He just happens to be very tall.

    I, however, cannot get health insurance of any kind. Why? Because I take a drug for PCOS. No, I’m not diabetic. The medication actually keeps me from developing diabetes, but because of that, no health insurance for me. I’m 44 years old, my mother and aunt died of breast cancer. I haven’t had a mammogram because we simply can’t afford it. I’m still paying off the doctor bill from my trip to the gynecologist that I couldn’t put off any longer after a year of having menstrual cycles that lasted for weeks. I still haven’t been able to find a job. This is the longest I’ve ever been employed in all my life.

    I live in fear, terrified that I will get ill and we’ll wind up losing our house or having to file bankruptcy because of me. I literally have sleepless nights over it. I’m so tired of being afraid all the time. The stress is absolutely maddening. We’ve always been hard workers. We haven’t over-extended ourselves. Prior to my husband’s lay-off we even had a little savings. Yet, we still have this specter hanging over us, a literal Sword of Damocles that could destroy our family in an instant.


  • Edie
    June 14
    1:28 pm


    All I can say is that I am soo glad I live in Australia!
    Our health care system is not perfect and despite the last prime minister doing his best to screw over the system and make it more reliant on private insurance, he didn’t get too far. At least I know I will get care, eventually in some cases, no matter what.

    My heart goes out to those of you struggling under that scary system.


  • If there is that much blood from a motor vehicle csliiolon ..car won’t be in tact. Odds are the car will end up being a total loss.Now, if you committed suicide by gunshot inside the vehicle- then yes, the vehicles comprehensive coverage would pay to clean the blood and biological matter out of the car. In some cases, the insurance company may render the car a total loss if that is what the family prefers. The law does not require this, but some companies will total a car in a suicide situation for customer service reasons.


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment