The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Most personal bankruptcies caused by medical expenses

Feb 7, 2005

Over half of all personal bankruptcies are triggered by medical expenses. This is the conclusion of a study done at Harvard University.

The Harvard researchers estimate that in 2001 about two million people were affected by medically-triggered bankruptcies, including 700,000 dependent children.

It's not just the uninsured who are being financially ruined by medical expenses. Over three-quarters of those whose bankruptcies were triggered by illness had health insurance when they first got sick. But their insurance didn't begin to cover all expenses.

The financial misery caused by these illness-related bankruptcies is another result of the lack of a comprehensive universal health care program in this country.

David Himmelstein, the Harvard study's lead author says, "Unless you're Bill Gates, you're just one serious illness away from bankruptcy."