Archives for February 13, 2005

Medical Bills are NOT the leading cause of Bankruptcies

A must-read from National Review Online dissects last weeks’ headline news that medical bills are a leading cause of bankruptcy filings.

That study, released February 2nd pronounced, in part “…About half cited medical causes, which indicates that 1.9?2.2 million Americans (filers plus dependents) experienced medical bankruptcy…” I didn’t really believe that so I didn’t put any thought into it.

NRO did. They looked at the study and found weird methods:

…For example, the study classifies “uncontrolled gambling,” “drug addiction,” “alcohol addiction,” and the birth or adoption of a child as “a medical cause,” regardless of whether medical bills are involved. Yes, there may be situations in which a researcher might legitimately want to classify those conditions as “medical,” but a study that is being used to prove that Americans are going bankrupt as a result of crushing medical bills is not one of them. A father who has gambled away his family’s mortgage payment is not likely the victim of crushing medical bills. Similarly, new parents who find they can no longer afford their previous lifestyle now that one of them has to stay home with the baby will usually find the obstetrician’s bill the least of their problems. Babies are a financial hardship even when hospitals give them away free.

Maybe that’s why only 28.3 percent of the surveyed debtors themselves agreed with the authors that their bankruptcy was substantially caused by “illness or injury.” The rest put the blame elsewhere, even when the study labeled their problems as at least in part “medical.”

Unsurprisingly, there’s an agenda:

At least one of the authors ? Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a Cambridge Hospital internist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, makes it clear that she does indeed have an agenda ? health-care coverage that is universal and comprehensive. “Covering the uninsured isn’t enough. We must also upgrade and guarantee continuous coverage for those who have insurance,” she said in a statement. She went on to condemn employers and politicians who advocate what she called “stripped-down plans, so riddled with co-payments, deductibles and exclusions that serious illness leads straight to bankruptcy.”

Yes, some people are pauperized by medical bills to the point they need bankruptcy protection, I understand that. However, medical bills are not causing half the bankruptcies in the US.

via MedPundit