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Medical Bills Bust Finances

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Health problems contributed to a majority of U.S. bankruptcy filings in 2007, researchers report.

The researchers, from Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School, and Ohio University surveyed a random sample of 2,314 people who had filed for bankruptcy in the United States in 2007.

The researchers analyzed the bankruptcy court records, then interviewed 1,302 of the filers.

The researchers found that about 62% of the bankruptcies were “medical bankruptcies,” and that 92% of the filers of those cases had medical bill problems, according to a paper summarizing their results that appears in the American Journal of Medicine.

The researches defined bankruptcies as medical based on the given reasons for filing, loss of income due to illness, and the amount of medical debt.

About 78% of the families falling under the medical bankruptcy category had health insurance when the illness began or the injury occurred, and 60% of the insured families had private insurance.

After filing for bankruptcy, 69% of the medical debtor families still had medical coverage.

Out-of-pocket medical costs from the date when the health problems started averaged $17,749 for the privately insured and $26,971 for the uninsured.


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