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New study definitively links medical bills with bankruptcy


In a previous post, we discussed the connections between medical bills and bankruptcy. It seems we may have been ahead of the news cycle, as several national media outlets are reporting on a study just released by The American Journal of Medicine that reports close to two out of three bankruptcies are caused by medical bills. The study reports that the problem is not isolated to the uninsured- in fact, an astounding 77.9 percent of those surveyed for the study had medical insurance!

But it gets even more interesting.

The study was completed in 2007, meaning that a good deal of the more than 2,000 bankruptcy filers surveyed had yet to experience the full brunt of the current recession. Of all the bankruptcies in 2007, 62.1 percent of them were filed because of medical problems. From 2001 to 2007, the number of bankruptcies attributed to health concerns was around 50 percent.

The average medical bill for a person carrying private insurance was $17,749. For the uninsured, $26,971. Data also revealed that those included had debt of more than $5,000. Talk about pain.

According to the study, the majority of the bills were incurred in the hospital, costs which totaled almost half of average medical expenses. Prescription drugs, doctors' bills and insurance premiums made up the majority of the remaining costs.

Some of the most unsettling information concerned employer cancellation of coverage. Since the majority of health coverage in America is connected to having a job, a quarter of all employers who provide insurance were found to cancel coverage when a worker experiences a debilitating illness. Another quarter cancelled within a year of the illness. This unfortunate statistic is often attributed to the reality that when an injury or long-term illness hits, a person often misses significant time from work.

Real help is likely years away. Thus, should a medical emergency hit and even the savings account isn't enough to cover it, credit cards become the best option. And many of us know where that decision can lead.

Based on this study, it seems that there is indeed a connection between physical and fiscal health. Unfortunately, one surprise can ruin both. If you are struggling with medical debt, contact a bankruptcy attorney today.

The Law Offices of John T. Orcutt have helped thousands of families recover from medical debt. Call today to set up a free initial bankruptcy consultation. During normal business hours, call toll free +1-919-646-2654. Or make an "online" appointment by visiting our website at Convenient office locations in Raleigh, Durham, Wilson, and Fayetteville.

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